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Autonomy and the Swedish Torts Act – Historical Lessons in the Face of Robotics

Lorensson, Elmer LU (2019) JURM02 20182
Department of Law
Faculty of Law
Abstract
In the creation of the Swedish Torts Act of 1972, questions of autonomy were raised and discussed in a number of different ways. Its treatment here and in the writing of several important legal scholars in the period between the 1864 Penal Law and the new Torts Act offers several valuable insights into the problem of autonomy and tort law today, not least concerning robotics and AI.

This essay argues that changing views of autonomy and its role in notions of justice played a major part in the development of tort law between 1864 and 1972. The original line of thinking, here presented through the work of Richard Carlén would over the decennia come to be compromised in three stages. First, the idea that a person could act otherwise was... (More)
In the creation of the Swedish Torts Act of 1972, questions of autonomy were raised and discussed in a number of different ways. Its treatment here and in the writing of several important legal scholars in the period between the 1864 Penal Law and the new Torts Act offers several valuable insights into the problem of autonomy and tort law today, not least concerning robotics and AI.

This essay argues that changing views of autonomy and its role in notions of justice played a major part in the development of tort law between 1864 and 1972. The original line of thinking, here presented through the work of Richard Carlén would over the decennia come to be compromised in three stages. First, the idea that a person could act otherwise was compromised by developments in penal law theorizing around freewill, most explicitly as laid out by Johan Thyrén. This obliterated the notions of justice prevalent in older tort law. Second, the idea that tort as its most important feature had a decisive preventive effect, as advocated by Vilhelm Lundstedt and (in part) by Hjalmar Karlgren, was compromised by the realization that even where no measure of prevention could have made it possible to avoid damage, there remained the problem of reparation. This required the legislator to place tort in a wider economic perspective. Third, Ivar Strahl's groundbreaking ideas prompted a realization that even when the tort law could designate a tortfeasor whose liability was motivated by preventive aspects, the economic realities of society required the co-existence of tort with insurance. All this served to downplay the importance of autonomy in the Torts Act of 1972. As the EU moves to legislate on the tort liability for damage caused by robots (and perhaps, further down the road, the tort liability of the robots themselves), an insight to be drawn from the creation of the Swedish Torts Act is that the downplay of autonomy and personal responsibility seems to have continued, and that perhaps the only coherent reason to maintain tort liability will at some point be the same irrational notions of justice that were only reluctantly conceded to by the thinkers contributing to the Swedish Torts Act. (Less)
Popular Abstract (Swedish)
Under tillskapandet av skadeståndslagen (1972:207) diskuterades frågor om autonomi utifrån flera utgångspunkter. Förekomsten av dessa diskussioner i lagens förarbeten och i flera framstående rättsvetenskapsmäns arbeten under perioden mellan 1864 års strafflag och den nya skadeståndslagen ger oss värdefull inblick i problemet med autonomi och skadeståndsrätt idag, inte minst vad gäller dess förhållande till robotik och AI.

I denna uppsats argumenteras för att en förändrad syn på autonomi och dess roll för det allmänna rättsmedvetandet spelade stor roll för skadeståndsrättens utveckling mellan 1864 och 1972. Det ursprungliga synsättet, här företrätt av Richard Carlén, skulle under de följande decenniernas gång komma att utmanas i tre... (More)
Under tillskapandet av skadeståndslagen (1972:207) diskuterades frågor om autonomi utifrån flera utgångspunkter. Förekomsten av dessa diskussioner i lagens förarbeten och i flera framstående rättsvetenskapsmäns arbeten under perioden mellan 1864 års strafflag och den nya skadeståndslagen ger oss värdefull inblick i problemet med autonomi och skadeståndsrätt idag, inte minst vad gäller dess förhållande till robotik och AI.

I denna uppsats argumenteras för att en förändrad syn på autonomi och dess roll för det allmänna rättsmedvetandet spelade stor roll för skadeståndsrättens utveckling mellan 1864 och 1972. Det ursprungliga synsättet, här företrätt av Richard Carlén, skulle under de följande decenniernas gång komma att utmanas i tre steg. Till att börja med blev uppfattningen att en person "kunnat handla annorlunda" omintetgjord av nya straffrättsliga teorier kring fri vilja, tydligast framlagda av Johan Thyrén. Detta utmanade de rättviseföreställningar som dittills dominerat skadeståndsrätten. Vidare blev uppfattningen att prevention var skadeståndsrättens viktigaste funktion, såsom förfäktades av Vilhelm Lundstedt och (till viss del) Hjalmar Karlgren, utmanat av insikten att även där ingen prevention i världen kunnat göra det möjligt att undvika skada så kvarstod behovet av reparation. Detta nödgade lagstiftaren att sätta skadeståndet i ett vidare ekonomiskt perspektiv. Slutligen innebar Ivar Strahls banbrytande idéer en insikt om att även när skadeståndsrätten kunde peka ut en skadeståndsskyldig vars ansvar motiverades av preventiva synpunkter, så krävde samhällets ekonomiska realiteter att skadeståndsrätten tilläts samexistera med försäkringsväsendet. Allt detta bidrog till att tona ned autonomins betydelse för skadeståndslagens utformning. När EU nu initierat lagstiftning beträffande skadeståndsskyldighet för skador orsakade av robotar (och kanske, på sikt, robotars egen skadeståndsskyldighet) kan vi från skadeståndslagens tillkomst dra lärdomen att nedtonandet av autonomi och personligt ansvar verkar ha fortsatt. Kanske är det enda egentliga skälet för att vidmakthålla skadeståndsskyldigheten såsom vi känner den samma irrationella rättviseföreställningar som bara motvilligt tolererades av tänkarna bakom den svenska skadeståndslagen. (Less)
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author
Lorensson, Elmer LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Autonomi och den svenska skadeståndslagen – Historiska lärdomar inför robotikens frammarsch
course
JURM02 20182
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Legal history, EU law
language
English
id
8965494
date added to LUP
2019-01-30 19:37:38
date last changed
2019-01-30 19:37:38
@misc{8965494,
  abstract     = {In the creation of the Swedish Torts Act of 1972, questions of autonomy were raised and discussed in a number of different ways. Its treatment here and in the writing of several important legal scholars in the period between the 1864 Penal Law and the new Torts Act offers several valuable insights into the problem of autonomy and tort law today, not least concerning robotics and AI.

 This essay argues that changing views of autonomy and its role in notions of justice played a major part in the development of tort law between 1864 and 1972. The original line of thinking, here presented through the work of Richard Carlén would over the decennia come to be compromised in three stages. First, the idea that a person could act otherwise was compromised by developments in penal law theorizing around freewill, most explicitly as laid out by Johan Thyrén. This obliterated the notions of justice prevalent in older tort law. Second, the idea that tort as its most important feature had a decisive preventive effect, as advocated by Vilhelm Lundstedt and (in part) by Hjalmar Karlgren, was compromised by the realization that even where no measure of prevention could have made it possible to avoid damage, there remained the problem of reparation. This required the legislator to place tort in a wider economic perspective. Third, Ivar Strahl's groundbreaking ideas prompted a realization that even when the tort law could designate a tortfeasor whose liability was motivated by preventive aspects, the economic realities of society required the co-existence of tort with insurance. All this served to downplay the importance of autonomy in the Torts Act of 1972. As the EU moves to legislate on the tort liability for damage caused by robots (and perhaps, further down the road, the tort liability of the robots themselves), an insight to be drawn from the creation of the Swedish Torts Act is that the downplay of autonomy and personal responsibility seems to have continued, and that perhaps the only coherent reason to maintain tort liability will at some point be the same irrational notions of justice that were only reluctantly conceded to by the thinkers contributing to the Swedish Torts Act.},
  author       = {Lorensson, Elmer},
  keyword      = {Legal history,EU law},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Autonomy and the Swedish Torts Act – Historical Lessons in the Face of Robotics},
  year         = {2019},
}