Table of Contents

Research Handbook on the Economics of Torts

Research Handbook on the Economics of Torts

Research Handbooks in Law and Economics series

Edited by Jennifer H. Arlen

This pioneering Handbook contains specially-commissioned chapters on tort law from leading experts in the field. This volume evaluates issues of vital importance to those seeking to understand and reform the tort law and the litigation process, taking a multi-disciplinary approach, including theoretical economic analysis, empirical analysis, socio-economic analysis, and behavioral analysis. Topics discussed include products liability, medical malpractice, causation, proximate cause, joint and several liability, class actions, mass torts, vicarious liability, settlement, damage rules, juries, tort reform, and potential alternatives to the tort system. Scholars, students, legal practitioners, regulators, and judges with an interest in tort law, litigation, damages, and reform will find this seminal Handbook an invaluable addition to their libraries.

Chapter 4: Causation in tort law: A reconsideration

Keith N. Hylton

Subjects: economics and finance, law and economics, law - academic, law and economics, law of obligations


Causation is a source of confusion in tort theory, as well as a flash point for the debate between consequentialist and deontological legal theorists. Consequentialists argue that causation is generally determined by the policy grounds for negligence, not by a technical analysis of the facts. Conversely, deontologists reject the view that policy motives determine causation findings. Causation has also generated different approaches within the consequentialist school. Some take an essentially forward-looking approach to formalizing causation analysis, finding causation analysis to be subsumed within the Hand Formula. Another approach within the consequentialist school closely examines the incentive effects of causation in the presence of an uncertain application of the negligence test. This approach makes use of the fact that the causation test is applied retrospectively, but it makes no attempt to reconcile itself with the forward-looking approach.

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