Document Type



This article examines the intellectual origins of strict products liability in America. The author traces the intellectual roots of strict products liability to the constellation of ideas referred to in the article as "pragmatic instrumentalism" (pragmatism, institutional economics, and legal realism). Pragmatic instrumentalism played a significant role in changing the way tort law is viewed in America­transforming it from an individualist focus to being concerned with broader policy implications. This new intellectual perspective, combined with Progressive Era politics, led to the shift away from negligence to strict liability in products liability.

Date of Authorship for this Version



strict products liability, tort law, Law, Legal History, Theory and Process

Original Citation

Originally published in American Journal of Legal History, Vol. 39, No. 4, pp. 443-509, October 1995., Reprinted with permission from the American Journal of Legal History.