In this article I shall address a series of questions on personal responsibility that hold great interest for experts both in literary theory and in law. I purport to know very little about the first of these topics, whose proper practice is not my concern. But the structure of legal theory, to which I have devoted my entire professional career, does put me in a position to issue a cautionary warning about using legal theory generally as a tool for analyzing literary texts that raise subtleties about proper standards for social behavior. Inevitability, one of the many areas of potential overlap between literature and law, always conjures up the sense of inexorable social forces bordering on logical certainty, and not of contingent propositions that admit of empirical doubt.

Questions of inevitability, commercial practice, and natural causation have always held a secure place...

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