Coase’s pastoral parable

That is the title of my most recent work-in-progress, which I have just posted to SSRN. I was invited to present my work next month at Mercer Law School in Macon, Georgia. In the meantime here is the abstract of my paper:

“Some stories have heroes and villains. Others involve a quest or a monster to be defeated. The law is no exception. Broadly speaking, most legal stories are generally about identifying wrongdoers and vindicating the rights of victims, but what if harms are “reciprocal” or jointly-caused? In other words, what if victims are just as responsible as wrongdoers for their plight? It was Ronald Coase who first proposed such a novel counter-narrative to the standard victim-wrongdoer story in law. Researching and writing in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Professor Coase–an obscure, middle-aged English economist at the time–plucked a number of leading cases from the English Law Reports and other sources. Coase then used these old cases to create a compelling but controversial legal counter-narrative in ‘The Problem of Social Cost’: compelling because Coase’s parable forever changed the way many economists, lawyers, and judges see the law; controversial because it was Coase who first conceived of harms as a “reciprocal” problem. Simply put, whenever one party accuses another party of harming them, it is almost always the case that both parties are responsible for the harm–that is the essence of Coase’s novel and unorthodox parable.”

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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