Causality in Law

Project leader:
Prof. Dr. Markus Stepanians (Bern)

PhD student:
Benedikt Kahmen, M.Phil. (Aachen)

The main aim of this project is to describe and clarify the intrinsic link between responsibility and causation generally presupposed in the law (as well as in morals) for the normative assessment of actions and their consequences. Whether the defendant is legally liable to punishment or compensation usually depends on proving whether he or she has caused harm of a kind the law regards as wrong. For this reason, many legal inquiries try to explain how some event or state of affairs, such as a death or an injury, came about, and they do so by establishing a causal link between the actions of the defendant and the untoward event in question. However, although legal theory and practice is drenched in causal language, and despite repeated efforts to clarify the underlying conceptions, the legal understanding of causation has hitherto proved remarkably resistant to analysis. This project is another attempt to throw some light on it through a sustained interdisciplinary effort.