Causation and Tort Liability

John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics, and Business, Harvard Law School, Discussion Paper No. 193

Posted: 7 Jan 1997

See all articles by Steven Shavell

Steven Shavell

Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: August 1996

Abstract

We say that a person's act caused harm if the harm would not have occurred had the person not committed the act. This meaning of causation (sometimes called causation in fact or "but for" causation) along with notions of "proximate causation" are considered in this encyclopedia entry. It is a basic characteristic of tort law that liability is not imposed unless the defendant caused harm in a relevant sense. The chief question addressed here is how this feature of tort law advances the social, instrumental ends of the legal system.

JEL Classification: K13

Suggested Citation

Shavell, Steven, Causation and Tort Liability (August 1996). John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics, and Business, Harvard Law School, Discussion Paper No. 193. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=10259

Steven Shavell (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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