Social Philosophy and Policy

Research Article


Kenneth W. Simonsa1

a1 Law, Boston University

Faced with the choice between creating a risk of harm and taking a precaution against that risk, should I take the precaution? Does the proper analysis of this trade-off require a maximizing, utilitarian approach? If not, how does one properly analyze the trade-off?

These questions are important, for we often are uncertain about the effects of our actions. Accordingly, we often must consider whether our actions create an unreasonable risk of injury — that is, whether our actions are negligent.


* I thank participants at the Boston University School of Law faculty workshop, as well as the other contributors to this volume, and its editors, for their helpful questions and comments. David Schur provided valuable research and editing assistance. I am especially indebted to Hugh Baxter, David Lyons, and Larry Solum for their advice.