Obligations and Outcomes in the Law of Torts
RELATING TO RESPONSIBILITY: ESSAYS FOR TONY HONORE, P. Cane & J. Gardner, eds., Hart Publishing, 2001
46 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2009
Date Written: January 1, 2001
This essay develops the central themes of Tony Honoré's well-known article 'Responsibility and Luck', Law Quarterly Review 104 (1988), 530-553. It begins by clarifying the contrast between strict liability and negligence liability. It then proceeds to explore a second (cross-cutting) distinction between liability dependent on results (e.g. resulting harm or damage) and liability not so dependent. The main business of the essay is to defend Honoré's proposal that liability dependent on results is a manifestation of an unexceptional and unavoidable aspect of human life. The essay argues, with Honoré, that if our moral agency is to be understood as not extending to the results of our actions then our moral agency cannot be understood at all. Morality cannot be impervious to outcome-luck and so any argument for legal liability to be impervious to outcome-luck must fail if it depends on the proposition that morality is so impervious.
Keywords: jurisprudence, responsibility, luck
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