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Rethinking the Reasonable PersonAn Egalitarian Reconstruction of the Objective Standard$
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Mayo Moran

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199247820

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199247820.001.0001

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Living on the Fault Line: The Reasonable Person and the Developmentally Disabled

Living on the Fault Line: The Reasonable Person and the Developmentally Disabled

(p.18) 1 Living on the Fault Line: The Reasonable Person and the Developmentally Disabled
Rethinking the Reasonable Person

Mayo Moran

Oxford University Press

As the common law's tool for identifying behaviour that attracts neither censure nor legal liability, the reasonable person plays a central role in the law of negligence. Only those who emulate the reasonable person will be considered without fault and hence relieved of the consequences of their actions. In this sense, the behaviour of the reasonable person defines the content of the renowned objective standard of the law of negligence: a standard that, though it does not demand perfection, insists upon a certain level of prudence or attentiveness to the interests of others. This chapter examines the reasonable person and his relationship with the problem of the cognitively or developmentally disabled, thus uncovering deep tensions and ambiguities in the law of negligence. Five arguments used to justify the treatment of the developmentally disabled under the reasonable person standard are discussed: the unmanageability argument, deterrence rationale, compensation rationale, luck and responsibility, and equality rationale.

Keywords:   fault, consequences, developmentally disabled, standard, law of negligence, liability, unmanageability, deterrence, compensation, equality

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