Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Two societal purposes

The civil liability system serves two main societal purposes.

One purpose is to provide a mechanism for compensating society's members when they suffer physical or financial damages.

The second (and related) purpose is as a mechanism for regulating the activities of members of society to lessen harms they do to one another and to achieve a deterrent effect by punishing those whose deliberate or negligent actions cause damage to others.

In the tort reform debate, it seems important to keep in mind that the civil liability system is not the only mechanism society employs for serving these two purposes, and any evaluation of the civil liability system ought to take cognizance of the other mechanisms that society employs in these areas as well, to consider the totality of the situation, to evaluate the merits, costs and other advantages or disadvantages of all the various mechanisms, and to try to determine how best to accomplish the two purposes in question.

For a fuller discussion, see M. My writings.

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