Making Hard Social Choices: Lessons from the Auto Accident Compensation Debate
44 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2008
Date Written: 1992
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: Suggested Citation