Who is the 'reasonable person' invoked by the law? - Deepstash

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The reasonable person

Legal standards would often ask what the 'reasonable person' would do. But we should consider who this person is.

The reasonable person is not the average person as average people can do unreasonable things; neither is it the ideal person. Instead, the reasonable person represents someone common as well as good.

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Reasonableness is not an empirical or statistical measure of how average members of the public think, feel, or behave … Rather, reasonableness is a normative measure of ways in which it is right for persons to think, feel, or behave …

PETER WESTEN

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The law of accidents

The reasonable person is often associated with the law of accidents.

When determining if someone is legally responsible for causing an injury, courts want to know if the person causing the injury acted with the care of a reasonable person. But theorists often remark that the reasonable person is not the average person. In turn, this sparks 'ideal' theories of a reasonable person.

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How ordinary people judge reasonableness

How ordinary people judge reasonableness is mostly neglected. The standard of 'reasonable care' might be viewed as the standard level of care or a good level of care or both.

An experiment suggested that our conception of reasonableness is informed by thinking about what people actually do and what people should do.

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How the law judge reasonableness

When the law elaborates on reasonableness, it often suggests statistical considerations.

Historically, courts referred to the 'reasonable person and the 'ordinary' person, or otherwise, the 'ideal average prudent person'.

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The 'individualisation problem'

Acknowledging the relevance of statistical considerations offers progressive implications: when we want to include personal characteristics in reasonable-person analyses, should it include age, gender, race, etc.? For example, apparently sexist remarks. Women may understand certain remarks in the workplace differently from men.

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