Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Society wants more expenditures to reduce the risks of injury,illness, and premature death associated with many activities, but simultaneously it wants the fruits of those activities to continue to be available at a low cost. To some extent, these goals are inherently in conflict. On occasion society may give vitality to the slogan that human life has an infinite value, but it can do so only in narrow contexts and for brief periods. More often, artful self-deception is practiced to create the appearance of adhering to an impossible, but widely held, ideal, while in actuality lives are balanced against dollars. Every societal decision requires at least an implicit valuation of human life...

In this Article, I attempt to build upon Professor Calabresi's basic analytical framework. Identifying the flaws in present systems of encouraging safety and demonstrating,through the use of empirical evidence, the extreme distortions created by those flaws, I propose an entirely new approach to the goal of reducing accident costs through the legal system.