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Unpublished Paper
Proximate Cause and Responsibility
  • Peter M. Gerhart, Case Western Reserve University
This article solves the many puzzles of proximate cause by articulating a normative theory that explains why a person who acts unreasonably and causes harm is sometimes not responsible in negligence for that harm. The article first articulates a methodology of justification and explains how our understanding of proximate cause has lacked a justificational basis. The article then develops a theory of responsibility that explains that in proximate cause cases courts are examining the injurer’s fault for causing harm rather than limiting liability for faulty conduct. I argue that the theory of responsibility embedded in the reasonable person standard limits responsibility when the circumstances that link an actor’s conduct to the harm are ones that a reasonable person would not be expected to take into account when making choices. This fault based theory allows us to see the proximate cause cases as a unified and coherent set of outcomes that respond to the normative basis of responsibility in tort.
Publication Date
Citation Information
Peter M. Gerhart. "Proximate Cause and Responsibility" (2007)
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