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Getting Incentives RightImproving Torts, Contracts, and Restitution$
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Robert D. Cooter and Ariel Porat

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151595

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151595.001.0001

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A Public Goods Theory of Restitution

A Public Goods Theory of Restitution

(p.151) 9 A Public Goods Theory of Restitution
Getting Incentives Right

Robert D. Cooter

Ariel Porat

Princeton University Press

This chapter introduces what it calls the “public goods theory of restitution,” which applies when one person's act creates unrequested benefits for two or more people. It begins with examples that illustrate how the benefactor's act conveys a benefit to everyone in a group, noting that restitution law encourages the private production of public goods in special cases by holding the recipients liable for unrequested benefits. It then considers unrequested benefits under prevailing law and a private production of public goods theory before developing the case for an expanded duty of restitution. It advocates expanding the right to restitution to increase the private supply of public goods and argues that liability for receiving unrequested benefits should be far narrower than liability for causing harm.

Keywords:   theory of restitution, unrequested benefits, restitution law, expanded duty of restitution, private supply, public goods, liability, harm

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