University of Kansas, Spring 2005
Philosophy 674: Philosophy of Law

Class notes: chapter 4

The following notes correspond roughly to what we cover, including at least a portion of what I put on the board or the screen, in class. In places they may be more or less comprehensive than what we actually cover in class, and should not be taken as a substitute for your own observations and records of what goes on in class.

The following outline is designed to be, and is in some Web browsers, collapsible: by clicking on the heading for a section, you can collapse that section or, if it’s already collapsed, make it expanded again. If you want to print some but not all of this outline, collapse the parts you don’t want to print (so that just their top-level headings remain), and then click here to print this frame.

  1. pp. 111–124—lecture based on study questions
  2. pp. 124–133—lecture based on study questions
  3. Thomson, “Remarks on Causation and Liability”
    1. sections I–II
      1. purpose: to explore cases in which a defendant can be held liable without its having been shown that he caused the plaintiff’s loss
      2. conflicting intuitions
        1. pro: it seems fair to give some relief to a plaintiff who has obviously been harmed
        2. con: it seems unfair to make someone pay if it cannot be shown that he did caused any harm
      3. argument for holding both defendants responsible (p. 103.8)
        1. Consider the following propositions.
          1. P: The defendants should both be held liable.
          2. Q: The plaintiff should not have the burden of determining which defendant caused the harm.
          3. R: The plaintiff should not be at risk of being left without remedy.
          4. S: Both defendants acted negligently toward the plaintiff and might have caused the harm.
        2. Then the argument seems to be as follows.
          1. P if Q.
          2. Q if R.
          3. R if S.
          4. S.
          5. Therefore, P.
        3. necessity of the qualifications ‘toward the plaintiff’ and ‘might have caused the harm’
    2. sections IV–V
      1. things that might make holding both defendants liable more fair
        1. if they conspired to harm the plaintiff
        2. if they conspired to harm the plaintiff and to keep the plaintiff from knowing who harmed him
      2. less unfair to hold each defendant entirely liable than to hold each only partially liable
    3. section VIII to middle of p. 128
      1. Red Cab Company, 60 percent; Green Cab Company, 40 percent
      2. Is it fair to hold Red Cab Company liable for all of the plaintiff’s costs?