I agree with the reasoning reflected in this post — insurers’ obligations to pay must be determined by the language of the contract and the facts of the event, not squishy concepts of what people need when they suffer a loss. And I have to say that if I didn’t agree with it, engaging in coverage analysis and litigation, whether for insurers or policyholders, would be the wrong field for me: the right field for me would be politics, where you can say anything you want, no matter how stupid, as long as you posit some supposed moral imperative.
Now, contract interpretation and performance are not inherently amoral — Kant’s concept of a categorical imperative would say the same thing. Obviously, bad faith laws also recognize that there is a duty to treat others as you would be treated yourself. But that is not what we’re talking about. Instead, we are talking about the idea that deciding to just say the heck with the contract and pay to each according to his need can itself be an immoral act. If you don’t buy that, run it through Kant’s three categorical imperatives and you will see that I am right. That is as much philosophy as I am going to talk today, because I have a friend who has an advanced degree in philosophy and he is the kind who always wants to correct some aspect of what you say about any given ethos. So the less I say, the less the danger I will have to listen to him.
One last thing. In writing this post, I was doing some channel surfing on the Web, going from a search window on, say, NFL mock drafts to a search window on morality in contract law, and I ran across this scholarly article. Let me ask you a favor. Read the first big paragraph, and give me a summary in one sentence of 20 words or less of what the author is saying. I am almost totally at a loss as to what is being said, but here is my guess: "Theories about how contracts should work depend on assumptions about how contracts actually do work, but these assumptions can be wrong." You see? I couldn’t do it in less than 21, and my guess may be way off base. I made a determined effort to read this article, mostly out of curiosity as to what the author is talking about, but I got to only about page 8. The biggest stumbling block? Besides the obvious, the word qua is used, and I hate the word qua. If I met qua on the street I might physically attack it — at the very least I would call the authorities. About page 8 these resentments built up to such a degree I couldn’t go on.