"Products Liability and Judicial Wealth Redistributions," 51 Indiana Law Journal 558 (1976)
Rules which redistribute wealth make some people better off at the expense of other people; they improve the welfare of particular persons' by giving them money, goods, or services. Rules which are sometimes termed general encourage the performance of duties with which all must comply; they improve the general welfare by enabling activities to be carried on efficiently, safely, and predictably. Legal rules sometimes have both distributional and general effects. Thus reducing poverty, a distributional goal, may reduce crime, which would in turn facilitate commerce. And enforcing contracts, pursuant to the general rule requiring this, redistributes wealth in favor of prudent bargainers. I will characterize a legal rule as "distributional" if (i) it produces only distributional effects or (ii) is adopted because its distributional effects are sought. A rule is then "general" if (i) it produces no distributional effects or (ii) is adopted because its general welfare effects are sought.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Schwartz, Alan, "Products Liability and Judicial Wealth Redistributions" (1976). Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 1114.