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Freedom to HarmThe Lasting Legacy of the Laissez Faire Revival$
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Thomas O. McGarity

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300141245

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300141245.001.0001

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Freedom, Responsibility, and Accountability

Freedom, Responsibility, and Accountability

(p.27) 3 Freedom, Responsibility, and Accountability
Freedom to Harm

Thomas O. McGarity

Yale University Press

This chapter describes the tension between freedom, accountability, and responsibility which is at the heart of the ongoing bargain over the role that government plays in American life. The institutions which government has created to craft rules of responsibility for business entities and to ensure that violators are held accountable for the adverse social consequences which result from violating those rules, are charged with articulating legally binding rules defining responsible business practices function in different, but complementary ways. Most regulatory statutes prescribe civil fines and criminal penalties for violations of regulations that the agency detects and elects to prosecute. Free market advocates acknowledge a legitimate role for the civil justice system in forcing negligent parties to compensate their victims, but would limit that compensation to what the victim would have received from a hypothetical insurance policy purchased prior to the accident.

Keywords:   freedom, accountability, responsibility, government, American life, institutions, business practices, regulatory statutes

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