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Zittrain Torts Playlist Spring 2018

VII. Negligence: Adjusting the Standard?

Although “reasonable care” may sound like a simple, straightforward standard, its simplicity is also its problem: there may be situations in which we wish there were more guidance to settle upon a judgment of negligence, even with the facts clearly presented. Suppose a six-year-old playing a game of tag in the local park knocks over a responsibly-behaving passerby. Does reasonable care naturally scale to meet a six-year-old's capacities? Should it?

The question of how to judge a six-year-old opens the door to a broader question that has the ring of applied philosophy to it: to what extent should society forgive, and reflect in its standards, the infirmities and limitations of a defendant? How much should expectations be raised for those with extra abilities?