Becoming Responsible: Conceptual Change in the Emergence of Tort Law

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Becoming Responsible: Conceptual Change in the Emergence of Tort Law

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Classic conceptions of how law, politics, and morality relate to one another argue that moral and political goals drive legal innovation and practice. This dissertation argues that the classic conception is flawed because legal practices can supersede the moral and political goals they originally set out to accomplish and this has consequences for political and moral discourses. Through archival research in the little-investigated history of tort law, this project uncovers how the moral concept of responsibility developed in tandem with the legal technology of tort law and how the original asymmetries between the moral concept and the legal technology were leveraged by the legal profession to create a set of far reaching practices that governed independently of moral justification. My dissertation argues that through the legal evolution of the concept of responsibility, tort law acquired its present dual role as both codified law and social discipline.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2015. Major: Political Science. Advisor: Joan Tronto. 1 computer file (PDF); iii, 225 pages.

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Goltz, Caleb. (2015). Becoming Responsible: Conceptual Change in the Emergence of Tort Law. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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