Bava Kamma 15 - Do Normal Oxen Gore? (Torts)

Is the payment of half damages for goring compensation or a penalty?

Compensation argument: It is common for oxen to gore, and they must, therefore, be guarded. By rights, therefore, the ox's owner should pay for all the damage, but the Merciful One took pity on him and reduced his liability by half because this ox had not yet become warned.

Penalty argument: oxen do not ordinarily gore or do malicious damage. By rights, therefore, the ox's owner should not have to pay at all, but the Merciful One penalized him in order that he should guard his ox more carefully.

Art: Village Bullfight by Francisco De Goya y Lucientes

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