Tort Law in America: An Intellectual History

Tort Law in America: An Intellectual History

Tort Law in America: An Intellectual History

Tort Law in America: An Intellectual History

Synopsis

This history of tort law in America looks at how the subject has been conceptualized, pointing out why changes in rules occurred, and who did the changing. White approaches his subject from four perspectives: intellectual history, the sociology of knowledge, the phenomoenon ofprofessionalization in the late 19th and 20th centuries in America, and the recurrent concerns of tort law since it became a discrete field.

Excerpt

There are some books that I suppose one expects to write, but this was not one of them. I have been teaching tort law for several years, but I have not contributed any "orthodox" scholarship to the field and have not regarded Torts as my principal area of scholarly interest. Over time, however, the possibility of applying techniques of intellectual history to a private law subject engaged me, and the subject that naturally came to mind was the one with which I had a passing familiarity.

The experiences of looking at Torts from a different vantage point and reacquainting myself with intellectual history have been sources of considerable stimulation and pleasure to me. This is one instance where an author may well have learned more from a book than his readers. While I am certainly not anxious to deter prospective readers from attempting that comparison, should my intuitions be verified I will not feel unrewarded. the possibilities for continued work on the relationship between private law and ideas in American history now seem varied and exciting to me; it has been gratifying to see them opening up firsthand.

Part of my educational experiences in writing this book have come through the conversations and the aid of others. Tyler Baker, Richard Epstein, Thomas Haskell, James Henderson, Charles McCurdy, Harvey Perlman, Stephen Presser, Calvin Woodard, and Jamil Zainalden have read the entire manuscript and have given probing and helpful commentary. Thomas Bergin, George Fletcher, and Dorothy Ross have read various drafts of individual chapters and have improved . . .

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