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Journal of Tort Law

Founded by Coleman, Jules

Editor-in-Chief: Robinette, Christopher

Editorial Board Member: Geistfeld, Mark A / Goldberg, John / Perry, Ronen / Sharkey, Catherine M. / Witt, John / Zipursky, Benjamin

2 Issues per year


CiteScore 2016: 0.42

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2015: 0.241
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2015: 0.170

Online
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1932-9148
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The Myths of MacPherson

John C. P. Goldberg
  • Corresponding author
  • Eli Goldston Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, 1563 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States of America
  • Other articles by this author:
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/ Benjamin C. Zipursky
  • James H. Quinn Professor, Fordham University School of Law, 150 West 62nd Street, New York, NY 10023, United States of America
  • Other articles by this author:
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Published Online: 2016-06-08 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jtl-2016-0009

Abstract

For a symposium marking the centenary of MacPherson v. Buick, we identify three common characterizations of Cardozo’s famous opinion that purport to explain its importance. Unfortunately, each of these characterizations turns out to be a myth. MacPherson is worthy of celebration, but not because it recognizes that negligence law’s duty of care is owed to the world, nor because it displays the promise of an instrumental, policy-oriented approach to adjudication, nor because it embraces a nascent form of strict products liability. These myths of MacPherson reflect deep misunderstandings of tort law, and of Cardozo’s distinctively pragmatic approach to adjudication. Ironically, although they have been largely fostered by progressives, the myths lend support to the cause of modern tort reform. By contrast, an accurate appreciation of MacPherson’s virtues permits an understanding of negligence, tort law, and common law adjudication that provides grounds for resisting regressive reforms.

keywords: adjudication; cardozo; common law; duty; escola; instrumentalism; MacPherson v. Buick; negligence; pragmatism; preemption; privity; traynor

About the article

Published Online: 2016-06-08

Published in Print: 2016-08-01


Citation Information: Journal of Tort Law, ISSN (Online) 1932-9148, ISSN (Print) 2194-6515, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jtl-2016-0009.

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