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Collective Responsibility

  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

The concept of collective responsibility, or group punishment, for crimes or other harmful acts was a pervasive feature of ancient societies, as exemplified by the Roman doctrines of quasi-delicts and noxal liability, and the Greek notion of “pollution.” This chapter briefly surveys historical examples of collective responsibility, which have largely given way to the modern concept of individual responsibility, though vestiges of collective responsibility remain in modern culture and law (notably in the form of vicarious liability). The chapter then lays out a theoretical analysis of the choice between collective and individual responsibility that highlights those circumstances in which each is preferred as a law enforcement strategy.

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Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2013-23.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2013-23
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Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/

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  1. F. Parisi & Guiseppe Dari Mattiaci, 2003. "The Rise and Fall of Communal Liability in Ancient Law," Working Papers 03-12, Utrecht School of Economics.
  2. Thomas J. Miceli & Kathleen Segerson, 2007. "Punishing the Innocent along with the Guilty: The Economics of Individual versus Group Punishment," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 81-106, 01.
  3. Shavell, Steven, 1985. "Uncertainty over Causation and the Determination of Civil Liability," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(3), pages 587-609, October.
  4. Segerson, Kathleen & Tietenberg, Tom, 1992. "The structure of penalties in environmental enforcement: An economic analysis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 179-200, September.
  5. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1999. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," NBER Working Papers 6993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Peter S. Menell, 1991. "The Limitations of Legal Institutions for Addressing Environmental Risks," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 93-113, Summer.
  8. Nuno Garoupa, 2000. "Corporate criminal law and organization incentives: a managerial perspective," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(6), pages 243-252.
  9. Anonymous, 1998. "Research Updates," Journal of Food Distribution Research, Food Distribution Research Society, vol. 29(1), February.
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