University of Kansas, Spring 2005
Philosophy 674: Philosophy of Law
Class notes: chapter 4
The following notes correspond
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actually cover in class, and should not be taken as a substitute for your own
observations and records of what goes on in class.
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pp. 111–124—lecture based on study questions
pp. 124–133—lecture based on study questions
Thomson, “Remarks on Causation and Liability”
- sections I–II
- purpose: to explore cases in which a defendant can be held liable without
its having been shown that he caused the plaintiff’s loss
- conflicting intuitions
- pro: it seems fair to give some relief to a plaintiff who has obviously
- con: it seems unfair to make someone pay if it cannot be shown that he did
caused any harm
- argument for holding both defendants responsible (p. 103.8)
- Consider the following propositions.
- P: The defendants should both be held liable.
- Q: The plaintiff should not have the burden of determining which defendant
caused the harm.
- R: The plaintiff should not be at risk of being left without remedy.
- S: Both defendants acted negligently toward the plaintiff and might have
caused the harm.
- Then the argument seems to be as follows.
- P if Q.
- Q if R.
- R if S.
- Therefore, P.
- necessity of the qualifications ‘toward the plaintiff’ and ‘might have
caused the harm’
- sections IV–V
- things that might make holding both defendants liable more fair
- if they conspired to harm the plaintiff
- if they conspired to harm the plaintiff and to keep the plaintiff from
knowing who harmed him
- less unfair to hold each defendant entirely liable than to hold each only
- section VIII to middle of p. 128
- Red Cab Company, 60 percent; Green Cab Company, 40 percent
- Is it fair to hold Red Cab Company liable for all of the plaintiff’s