(Monsanto Lecture) What Does Tort Law Do? What Can it Do?

Scott Hershovitz

University of Michigan Law School

July 28, 2013

Valparaiso University Law Review, Vol. 47, No. 1, 2012
U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 345

It’s not hard to describe what tort law does. As a first approximation, we might say that tort empowers those who suffer certain sorts of injuries or invasions to seek remedies from those who brought about those injuries or invasions. The challenge is to explain why tort does that, or to explain what tort is trying to do when it does that. After all, it is not obvious that we should have an institution specially concerned with the injuries and invasions that count as torts.

In this essay (delivered as the 2012 Monsanto Lecture at Valparaiso University School of Law), I argue that tort is concerned with those injuries and invasions because it aims at corrective justice, not efficiency. But I contend that the corrective justice tort pursues is not best understood on an Aristotelian model, which requires that wrongful transactions be reversed. Rather, I argue, tort pursues corrective justice in much the same way that revenge does — by offering a performance aimed at persuading us that victim and wrongdoer are even in respect of the wrong.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 21

Keywords: tort, corrective justice, efficiency, revenge, getting even, John Gardner, continuity thesis

JEL Classification: K13

Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: July 29, 2013 ; Last revised: September 11, 2013

Suggested Citation

Hershovitz, Scott, (Monsanto Lecture) What Does Tort Law Do? What Can it Do? (July 28, 2013). Valparaiso University Law Review, Vol. 47, No. 1, 2012; U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 345. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2302358

Contact Information

Scott Hershovitz (Contact Author)
University of Michigan Law School ( email )
625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,504
Downloads: 254
Download Rank: 80,604
People who downloaded this paper also downloaded:
1. Tort as a Substitute for Revenge
By Scott Hershovitz

© 2015 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo6 in 0.391 seconds