The Intellectual Origins of American Strict Products Liability: A Case Study in American Pragmatic Instrumentalism
American Journal of Legal History, Vol. 39, No. 4, pp. 443-509, October 1995
68 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2012
Date Written: 1995
This article examines the intellectual origins of strict products liability in America. The author traces the intellectual roots of strict products liability to the constellation of ideas referred to in the article as “pragmatic instrumentalism” (pragmatism, institutional economics, and legal realism). Pragmatic instrumentalism played a significant role in changing the way tort law is viewed in America — transforming it from an individualist focus to being concerned with broader policy implications. This new intellectual perspective, combined with Progressive Era politics, led to the shift away from negligence to strict liability in products liability.
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