The constructs of “reasonableness” and “the reasonable person” play critical roles in many areas of law. For examples, negligence in tort law depends on whether or not the person who caused the injury acted reasonably. A reasonable person standard plays an important role in sexual harassment claims. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is the state’s burden of proof in criminal law cases. “Reasonable expectations” is the touchstone for determining an employee’s sphere of privacy protection. Even in the recent Elonis v. United States case on social media and 1st Amendment rights, a pivotal issue was whether a reasonable person’s perception of a post should be the applicable standard.
This seminar explores the prominence, interpretations, and implications of the reasonableness and reasonable person standards across legal topics. Further, it considers how different American subcultures define reasonable conduct and the consequences of these varied perspectives.