Boston University School of Law

JD978 Harms and Benefits (S)


What is "harm"? Why is proof of harm so often required as a prerequisite for either private recovery or criminal liability? How do our obligations to provide benefits square with our obligations to avoid harm? When should receiving a benefit trigger a moral or legal obligation to pay? A myriad of fascinating questions come to the fore when we examine one of the basic distinctions of the law, namely, the distinction between harm and benefit. Readings will draw on philosophy, case law, statutes, legal scholarship, law & economics, and behavioral economics. Doctrinally we will touch on areas such as torts, copyright, and restitution. A series of short papers will be assigned, including papers that respond to the readings. There are no pre-requisites. NOTE: This seminar does not satisfy the Upper-class Writing Requirement. ** A student who fails to attend the initial meeting of a seminar, or to obtain permission to be absent from either the instructor or the Registrar, will be administratively dropped from the seminar. Students who waitlist for a seminar are required to attend the first seminar meeting to be considered for enrollment.