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The Moral Significance of Risking

John Oberdiek

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - School of Law - Camden

July 3, 2012

Legal Theory, Vol. 18, No. 3, 2012

What makes careless conduct careless is easily one of the deepest and most contested questions in negligence law, tort theory, and moral theory. Answering it involves determining the conditions that make the imposition of risk unjustifiable, wrong, or impermissible. Yet there is a still deeper as well as overlooked and undertheorized question: Why does subjecting others to risk of harm call for justification in the first place? That risk can be impermissibly imposed upon others — that is, the very possibility of negligence — presupposes that imposing risk is the kind of thing that can be impermissible. Unless imposing risk can be impermissible after all, unjustified risking is literally impossible. In this discussion, I explore what I call the moral significance of risking, arguing that the moral significance of risking resides in a certain kind of nonmaterial autonomy interest that is implicated whenever one imposes risk of harm on another.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 19

Keywords: risk, risk imposition, negligence, torts, tort theory, legal theory, moral theory, philosophy

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Date posted: October 5, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Oberdiek, John, The Moral Significance of Risking (July 3, 2012). Legal Theory, Vol. 18, No. 3, 2012. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2156913 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2156913

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John Oberdiek (Contact Author)
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - School of Law - Camden ( email )
United States
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