Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


What methods should we use to protect a legal entitlement or right? Guido Calabresi and A. Douglas Melamed in their 1972 article, "Property Rules, Liability Rules, and Inalienability: One View of the Cathedral," introduced the distinction between property rules and liability rules that has now formed the template of the debate over this vitally important question. Many look at this debate from the angle of an efficiency- seeking state. To truly evaluate the efficiency of these two rules, we must look beyond the typical determinants of individual valuations. Indirectly, this will take us to ideas related to consent and, more importantly, the subjective valuations individuals place on consent. The point is not that consent justifies efficiency, but rather that individuals may place a value on autonomy or a cost on loss of autonomy. This value or cost must be taken into account when using an analysis based on efficiency.