Making Hard Social Choices: Lessons from the Auto Accident Compensation Debate

44 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2008

See all articles by Bruce Chapman

Bruce Chapman

Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

Michael J. Trebilcock

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 1992

Abstract

In this Article we emphasize the important role that is played by choice sequences or processes in the determination of policy outcomes. As a positive matter, we show that if choice sequences are not reflected upon seriously, then the final policy outcomes that result from using those processes can be quite arbitrary. Indeed, the diversity of policy choice which we observe in automobile accident law across different state jurisdictions probably reflects this arbitrariness. In place of this arbitrariness, and building as a normative matter on certain results in the theory of public and social choice (particularly those results that recognize the importance for political stability of imposing certain forms of "value restriction" on the values that are inputted into political processes), we propose a non-arbitrary choice sequence for choosing among the various policy options that are typically available in automobile accident compensation law. We argue that the sequence-dependent results of a non-arbitrary choice process are acceptable in a way that the sequence-dependent results of processes that have never been the subject of any theoretical or normative reflection are not.

Suggested Citation

Chapman, Bruce and Trebilcock, Michael J., Making Hard Social Choices: Lessons from the Auto Accident Compensation Debate (1992). Rutgers Law Review, Vol. 44, No. 4, 1992. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1156863

Bruce Chapman (Contact Author)

Faculty of Law, University of Toronto ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-6911 (Phone)
416 978 2648 (Fax)

Michael J. Trebilcock

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-5843 (Phone)
416-978-1279 (Fax)

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