The purpose of this assignment is to give you an opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of negligence law and the philosophical issues that it raises. I’ve written the following document to help you get the most out of the assignment and to make the expectations for the assignment as clear as possible. Questions are welcome.
Part A. Setup — what is negligence law and is it justified. If so, how and in what respects?
- In part A you will be setting up the first half of a paper, the second part of which will be arguing and expanding on the claims you have made.
- First, write an introductory paragraph. This should be about half a page or less. The paragraph should end in a thesis about what you will argue. This should be short and clear and need not be groundbreaking. An examplemight be
“Negligence law is on the whole justified, but not in terms of redressing a particular kind of wrong, but rather as a tool of economic optimization. Evidence for this claim is that negligence law assigns liability to persons for conduct that cannot be considered morally wrong but that is economically wasteful.”
“Negligence law is aimed at redressing a kind of moral wrong, but its proximate cause element is poorly tailored to that end, because defendants who act wrongly may escape liability due to circumstances that are morally arbitrary.”
Thesis statement is very important. Outlines the whole argument you are going to present.
Your thesis can be original or draw on what we have read. It may be useful to position yourself within a debate or issue others have raised.
In this paragraph, you should try to summarize negligence law and the questions that it raises. This is hard because you should not go into detail and so the skill being tested here is how well you understand the basic question we are asking about negligence and so how clearly you can convey this question in a limited space.
- Next, you should dedicate some space (~2-3) paragraphs to describing how negligence (the tort) works and how you see it’s role in a society. It will likely be useful to use a case we talked about as a way of setting out its main features. Try to focus on giving helpful/relevant details, and not just every detail you can think of about negligence law.
- Next, you should try to explain how you see the role of negligence law and explain the general shape of your thesis. This depends on what your thesis is. You should try to explain the difference between negligence being a tool of economic advancement and as a response to a moral wrong. Which do you think it is? Then explain the argument you will offer for this claim or the argument you will defend it against. You may also at this point want to explain more about whether you think negligence law as currently constituted does a good job serving as an economic tool or moral response. Try to hone in on some area where you can defend these claims in depth. You should cite appropriately.
Part B. Explain and elaborate your thesis.
This will come in ~3 pages where you try to isolate what the issue is that you have pointed out and make your argument. How easy this is to do will depend on how well you have crafted your thesis.
The paper as a whole should ultimately answer the question “is negligence law justified?”