The economic analysis of which Adam Smith is a principal founder is helpful in practical reasoning about problems of justice precisely insofar as it systematically calls attention to the side-effects of individual choices and actions and behavior. Still, it would be a mistake to conclude that we need only a more adequate account of the benefits and burdens up for distribution or allocation by those responsible for the common good or general fate. We need also to bear in mind what Smith did not forget and what economics does not comprehend, the requirements of commutative justice. To see this, we may look at one of the economic and security policies of the rich which was developed in England in the half-century after Adam Smith's flourishing: the policy of laying hidden traps. After this, we turn to Richard Posner’s implications of economic analysis for common law, and then to objections that may be made to Posner’s school of economic analysis. Finally, I should say a little more about how intention and intentional wrong is related to the vast problem of harmful side-effects (including latent and long-term side-effects in environmental degradation of every kind).
Allocating Risks and Suffering: Some Hidden Traps,
38 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at http://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol38/iss1/13