Law and Community: The Case of Torts

Overview

In Habits of the Heart, Robert Bellah found that American's lives exhibit strong strains of both individualism and communitarianism, but that their predominant language is that of individualism. American law reveals a similar pattern, both in the dominance of individualist rhetoric and in the existence of a quieter, often unnoticed, communitarian strain. Law and Community: The Case of Torts uses tort law—the law through which individuals recover from those who have injured them—as a window through which to ...

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Overview

In Habits of the Heart, Robert Bellah found that American's lives exhibit strong strains of both individualism and communitarianism, but that their predominant language is that of individualism. American law reveals a similar pattern, both in the dominance of individualist rhetoric and in the existence of a quieter, often unnoticed, communitarian strain. Law and Community: The Case of Torts uses tort law—the law through which individuals recover from those who have injured them—as a window through which to explore the relationship between law and community. Tort rules are frequently American society's method of sorting out the rights and responsibilities of individuals, and the authors find that tort law exhibits communitarian strains even as it attempts to protect individuals from harm. Robert F. Cochran Jr. and Robert M. Ackerman eloquently argue that we should balance our concern for individual rights with the need to preserve those institutions—such as families, religious congregations, and governments—that help build the social capital that keeps society together.

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Editorial Reviews

Robert N. Bellah
American law is comparatively individualistic compared to other legal systems, and tort law is the heartland of that individualism. Nonetheless, Cochran and Ackerman have discovered significant concerns for community and the common good even within our tort law. By drawing these apparent anomalies to our attention, and by developing their possible implications for tort law and our legal system generally, they have made an enormous contribution. They have helped us speak again in other ways than we are used to. May their voices reverberate in many quarters!
Thomas D. Morgan
A book both timely and timeless. One does not have to be a lawyer to understand the questions Professors Ackerman and Cochran raise or the clarity with which they explore possible answers. A purely individualistic view of rights and responsibilities will not suffice, the authors suggest. The reader will be caught up in—and profit immeasurably from—thinking about the authors' efforts to produce better answers than the law so far provides.
Mary Ann Glendon
Law and Community is a path-breaking book. Drawing on the law of torts for examples, the authors explore with authority what is virtually unknown territory in American law: the ways in which our legal system does and does not attend to the intermediate structures of civil society upon which our great democratic experiment silently depends.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742521995
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Series: Rights and Responsibilities Series
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert F. Cochran, Jr., is the Louis D. Brandeis Professor and director of the Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics at the Pepperdine University School of Law. He is the author of over 35 articles and books, including Cases and Materials on the Legal Profession, Christian Perspectives on Legal Thought, and Lawyers, Clients, and Moral Responsibility. Robert M. Ackerman is professor of law and director of the Center for Dispute Resolution at Pennsylvania State University's Dickinson School of Law. He has also served as the dean of Willamette University College of Law and has written extensively in the fields of torts, dispute resolution, trial practice, and professional responsibility.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Ch. 1 Intermediate Communities: For Good and Ill 11
Ch. 2 Tort Law and Intermediate Communities: An Overview 25
Ch. 3 An Intermediate Communitarian Perspective on Tort Law 45
Ch. 4 Torts and Families 61
Ch. 5 Religious Congregations 89
Ch. 6 Torts and the Larger Community: The Limits of Legal Obligation 123
Ch. 7 Preserving the Larger Community (or How to Avoid Killing the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg) 155
Ch. 8 Damages, the Community, and 9/11 189
Ch. 9 Toward a Communitarian Tort System 223
Ch. 10 Communitarian Principles and Law 247
Index 257
About the Authors 263
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