… it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” ~ Albert Einstein
Aside from this beautiful quote from a beautiful mind, here are some concrete exam tips for my Torts class. First and foremost, remember that Torts is ultimately about solving practical problems that occur in the world, so don’t forget your common sense on the day of your exam. Specifically, read the facts and ask yourself, “What’s the problem I am trying solve?” Do this in three logical steps:
1. What went wrong? Who was harmed and how was he or she harmed?
2. Who did what? That is, who could potentially be legally liable for what went wrong?
3. Last but not least, remember to explain in your own words the specific reasons why a given party is, or is not, liable …
Remember, you are now experts in Negligence Law, so use your knowledge of this general area of law to solve whatever problem is before you.
The Coase Theorem is an idea in law and economics that states that private bargaining will lead to an optimal allocation of resources when two conditions are met: when property rights are well-defined, and when there are no obstacles to voluntary bargaining. This simple and somewhat counterintuitive idea is the foundation of the economic approach to law, but how strong or secure is this foundation?
prior probability will explain why the Prisoner’s Dilemma falsifies the Coase Theorem this Saturday at the University of Puerto Rico. Our talk, which is titled The Parable of the Prisoners, is scheduled to take place at 11:30 am in Room 301 of the UPR Law Library, and Professor Taja-Nia Henderson of Rutgers University will be serving as the paper’s commentator. All are welcome to attend …
Some people say “not yet.” Eli Dourado, for example, argues thus:
It’s true that opening up U.S. airspace to commercial drones will have some important privacy implications to consider. But it’s even more important that we consider the effect of too-early, heavy-handed regulation on future innovation. Like the internet, airspace is a platform for commercial and social innovation. As a permissionless, open platform, the internet allowed – still allows — entrepreneurs to try new business models and offer new services without having to seek the approval of regulators beforehand. *** Regulation at this juncture requires our over-speculating about which types of privacy violations might arise. Since many of these harms may never materialize, pre-emptive regulation is likely to overprotect privacy at the expense of innovation.
Is this argument a sound one, or is it just a pretext for no regulation? Also, is the Internet really a “regulation-free” or Hobbesian environment? Doesn’t the common law still apply to the World Wide Web? Also, if you agree with Dourado that it is still too early to regulate drones, how will we know when is the “right time” for regulation?
For our part, prior probability would take a different approach to drones. Since invasion of privacy is already a well-established tort, why not apply common law rules and principles to drones, that is, why not allow courts to develop the law in this area on a case-by-case basis?
And why do verdicts have to be binary–i.e. either “guilty” or “not guilty”? What if jurors were allowed instead to rate or score the plaintiff’s case, just like people rate movies or restaurants. In our most recent working paper, Why don’t juries try ‘range voting’? (pun intended), we propose just that: a simple “range voting” method for juries in which jurors would rate or score on a scale of zero to ten (or some other specified scale) the evidence presented by the parties at trial. The jury’s verdict would then consist of a numerical value, either the average or the sum total of all the individual scores. A plaintiff would prove his case only if the average value or sum total of the jury’s collective score exceeded some critical threshold. Since the jury’s numerical verdict would then be a function of this range voting procedure, we refer to such a numerical verdict as a range verdict. (By the way, we also discuss how range voting improves jury accuracy AND solves several problems endemic to juries, including holdouts, strategic jurors, and ignorant jurors.)
Our little paper is still a very rough proof of concept, so your critical comments and suggestions, especially destructive criticisms, are much appreciated by prior probability.
The Prisoner’s Dilemma–or is it Prisoners’ Dilemma?–is not only one of the most famous models in game theory; it has also been described as a “compelling drama,” as “the most famous game of strategy in all of social science,” and even as “one of the greatest ideas of the twentieth century.” Ever wondered who invented the Prisoner’s Dilemma, and why? Read my work in progress The Parable of the Prisoners to find out.
As an aside, prior probability will be presenting an abridged version of “The Parable of the Prisoners” at the University of Puerto Rico next Saturday. More details to follow soon …
Did the L.A. Lakers just make a really bad bet? A few days ago, the Lakers and Kobe Bryant agreed to a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension. This is no doubt a great deal for the Black Mamba, but is #24, who is well past his prime, really worth so much money at this stage of his pro career? Or is this multi-million dollar contract more about Kobe’s name recognition, star power, and ability to attract fans, not his future athletic prowess or ability to win championships?