How reasonable is the reasonable man?

10 Sep 22

From Randy T. Austin, The Reasonable Man Did the Darndest Things, 1992 BYU L. Rev. 479 (1992):

Obviously the Reasonable Man spends most, if not all, of his time doing reasonable things. Indeed, the very essence of the Reasonable Man is his unparalleled propensity to act reasonably. Oddly, however, the Reasonable Man has been spotted doing some rather peculiar things, peculiar at least for the Reasonable Man. For example, the Reasonable Man has been observed disobeying the direct requests of a gunman at point blank range. He has been seen driving through puddles splashing muddy water on unsuspecting pedestrian, jumping out of a moving car, and even running people over occasionally. In addition, he has been known to flip-out periodically, some have even seen him leaving people to die although he could have saved them. One of his most famous acquaintances claims that the Reasonable Man gets out of his car at every railroad crossing to check for oncoming trains. One judge has even suggested that the Reasonable Man may even turn down box seats to watch a baseball game from the bleachers.

Cases cited: Noll v. Marian, 32 A.2d 18, 19-20 (Pa. 1943); Osborne v. Montgomery, 234 N.W. 372, 376 (Wis. 1931); Cordas v. Peerless Transp. Co., 27 N.Y.S.2d 198, 200 (City Ct. 1941); Potenburg v. Varner, 424 A.2d 1370, 1372 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1981); Breunig v. American Family Ins. Co., 173 N.W.2d 619, 623 (Wis. 1970) (but see Kuhn v. Zabotsky, 224 N.E.2d 137, 139-40 (Ohio 1967) (suggesting that the Reasonable Man has never lost control); Sidwell v. McVay, 282 P.2d 756, 759 (Okla. 1955); Baltimore & O.R.R. v. Goodman, 275 U.S. 66, 69 (1927) (Holmes, J.); Aldes v. St. Paul Ball Club, 88 N.W.2d 94, 97 (M~M. 1958) (opinion of Dell, C.J.).