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The Philosophical Foundations of Tort Law$
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David G. Owen

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780198265795

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198265795.001.0001

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Philosophical Foundations of Fault in Tort Law

Philosophical Foundations of Fault in Tort Law

(p.201) Philosophical Foundations of Fault in Tort Law
The Philosophical Foundations of Tort Law


Oxford University Press

In this chapter, the inquiry into the nature of fault in tort law involves an examination of the philosophical foundations of choice, action, and harmful conduct. First to be explored are the broad ideals that give moral character to a person’s actions: freedom, equality, and community or common good. Freedom (or autonomy), equality (in a ‘weak’ form), and community (in the ‘hard’ form of utility) are seen collectively to shape significantly the moral quality of human behavior. After these fundamental values are examined generally, their relative priority is next considered, followed by a discussion of the nature and ordering of the basic interests at stake in tort law. Finally, the chapter focuses briefly on the more specific questions of how the underlying values help define the wrongfulness, first, of intentionally harmful conduct; and second, of conduct that accidentally causes harm.

Keywords:   fault, tort law, choice, action, harmful conduct, freedom, equality, community, common good, wrongfulness

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