Motivation and Tort Law: Acting for Economic Gain as a Suspect Motive
Martin A. Kotler
Widener University Delaware Law School
January 1, 1988
Vanderbilt Law Review, Vol. 41, 1988
Traditionally, tort scholars had claimed that the motives underlying a tortfeasor's decision to act were largely irrelevant. This Article challenges that view by showing the recurring importance of motive. Specifically, whether the actor is perceived to have been motivated by a desire for personal economic gain or, conversely, motivated by altruism correlates closely with the development of tort doctrine imposing liability on the former and immunizing the latter.
The observation that the economically motivated actor has been disfavored historically contradicts much of the descriptive and normative law and economics literature which argued that wealth maximizing behavior was and should be promoted by the legal system.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 47
Keywords: torts, tort law, motivation, motive, personal gain
JEL Classification: K13
Date posted: May 9, 2009