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Full-Text Articles in Jurisprudence

The Hollowness Of The Harm Principle, Steven D. Smith Dec 2011

The Hollowness Of The Harm Principle, Steven D. Smith

Steven D. Smith

Among the various instruments in the toolbox of liberalism, the so-called “harm principle,” presented as the central thesis of John Stuart Mill’s classic On Liberty, has been one of the most popular. The harm principle has been widely embraced and invoked in both academic and popular debate about a variety of issues ranging from obscenity to drug regulation to abortion to same-sex marriage, and its influence is discernible in legal arguments and judicial opinions as well. Despite the principle’s apparent irresistibility, this essay argues that the principle is hollow. It is an empty vessel, alluring but without any ...


An Essay On Torts: States Of Argument, Marshall S. Shapo Jan 2011

An Essay On Torts: States Of Argument, Marshall S. Shapo

Faculty Working Papers

This essay summarizes high points in torts scholarship and case law over a period of two generations, highlighting the "states of argument" that have characterized tort law over that period. It intertwines doctrine and policy. Its doctrinal features include the tradtional spectrum of tort liability, the duty question, problems of proof, and the relative incoherency of damages rules. Noting the cross-doctrinal role of tort as a solver of functional problems, it focuses on major issues in products liability and medical malpractice. The essay discusses such elements of policy as the role of power in tort law, the tension between communitarianism ...


The New Old Legal Realsim, Tracey E. George, Mitu Gulati, Ann C. Mcginley Jan 2011

The New Old Legal Realsim, Tracey E. George, Mitu Gulati, Ann C. Mcginley

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Judges produce opinions for numerous purposes. A judicial opinion decides a case and informs the parties whether they won or lost. But in a common law system, the most important purpose of the opinion, particularly the appellate opinion, is to educate prospective litigants, lawyers, and lower court judges about the law: what it is and how it applies to a specific set of facts. Without this purpose, courts could more quickly and efficiently issue one-sentence rulings rather than set forth reasons. By issuing opinions, courts give actors a means of evaluating whether their actions are within the bounds of law ...