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Tort Theory (Perry)
Fall 2020   LAW 624-001  

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Meeting Times/Location
MW 3:00PM - 4:20PM
Silverman Hall 280

Stephen R. Perry

John J. O'Brien Professor of Law & Professor of Philosophy; Director, Institute of Law & Philosophy

Additional Information

Skills Training
Expository Writing

20% Participation,
80% Other (The default means of evaluation is a 24 hour takeaway exam, worth 80% of the final grade. However, a student may, with the permission of the instructor, write a paper in lieu of the exam, in which case the paper will be worth 80% of the final grade.)

Take Home,

Satisfies Senior Writing Requirement

With Permission of Instructor


Class meets in person.

Course Continuity
Students are encouraged to stay home if you are ill or experience flu-like symptoms. If you miss a class for any reason, it is still your responsibility to make up the work missed.

I offer the following to students who miss class due to illness:

- If you are going to be absent from a class due to illness or some other unavoidable circumstance, please email me in advance and I will have the class recorded.



In this course we will examine the law of torts from two main theoretical perspectives, economics and philosophy. The topics likely to be covered include the following: What is the difference among negligence, strict liability, and absolute liability? Is there an independent principle of corrective justice, and if there is such a principle, can it be regarded as providing the moral foundation of tort law? What is the nature of distributive justice? How are these two forms of justice related? What is the philosophical/economic character of the requirement of a duty of care, and under what circumstances should tort law impose affirmative duties? What is the philosophical/economic character of the standard of reasonable care, and, more particularly, what is the content of the standard? For example, what is the relationship between reasonable care and the Learned Hand formula? What is the nature of harm, both economically and philosophically speaking? What is the nature of risk, and what does it mean, either morally or economically, to impose a risk on someone else? What is the relationship between risk and harm? What is the philosophical/economic nature of the causation requirement in tort, and under what circumstances can the requirement be weakened or even departed from?

Course Concentrations

Perspectives on the Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate an understanding of how the law affects, and is affected by, the individual course topic; Perform legal analysis in the context of the individual course topic; Communicate effectively on the legal and other aspects of the individual course topic; Demonstrate the ability to use other disciplines to analyze legal issues relevant to the individual course topic, including economics, philosophy, and sociology, as appropriate.