Abstract for “Partial Liability” – Alexander Kaiserman

In most cases, liability in the law is all-or-nothing – a defendant either is or is not liable for a harm. By contrast, I will argue that a defendant should be held liable for a harm only to the degree to which their wrongdoing causally contributed to it. I’ll motivate a metaphysics of causal contribution and use it to provide a novel interpretation of the legal concept of ‘proximate’ causation. I then use the resulting framework to illuminate what I think is a deep tension between the retributive and distributive goals of tort law.