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When I was a first year law student I was often asked to explain what was meant by the word "torts," which was of course the name of one of my courses. This drove me to a law dictionary where I found tort defined as breach of a duty not arising out of contract. This is certainly not a very helpful definition. It suggests a simple dichotomy of duties or obligations into those we voluntarily assume by contract or agreement, and those that are thrust upon us by law whether we like it or not. This is a vastly oversimplified picture--neither the division nor the description of the parts into which the whole is divided will bear close analysis. Yet it is not without usefulness, and it may well serve as our starting point so far as the nature of torts is concerned; for by and large-in the gross so to speak-the law of torts has historically dealt with duties and obligations that society imposes on its individual members for one reason or another having little to do with the individual's consent, though they may indeed be imposed as conditions-often unwanted conditions-upon action voluntarily undertaken (like driving a car or running a business).

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Tort Law in Midstream: Its Challenge to the Judicial Process, 8 Buff. L. Rev. 315 (1959)

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