Document Type


Publication Title

U.C.L.A. Law Review

Publication Date



The principle of individual responsibility is one of the foundations of tort law, and indeed of the common law in general. Recently, however, court decisions and scholarly commentary, particularly on the issue of actual causation of injury, indicate a shift away from the principle of individual responsibility in torts toward what can be termed group, or community, responsibility. While the dimensions of this shift are as yet limited, its implications are immense: it calls into question fundamental premises regarding the nature of the individual and the individual's relationship to society. This Article addresses the emerging shift in tort law from individual to group responsibility, and its legal, political, and philosophical implications. After tracing the shift and describing the generally confused and hostile responses that it has evoked, I demonstrate that the shift is justified by, and intuitively expresses, a revision of the political theory of the individual and society that underlies present conceptions of legal responsibility. I conclude that the shift to group responsibility is a positive development, but one that must be understood and applied much more critically than courts or commentators have done thus far.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.