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An Empirical Inquiry into the Relation of Corrective Justice to Distributive Justice


Gregory Mitchell


University of Virginia School of Law

Philip E. Tetlock


University of California, Berkeley - Organizational Behavior & Industrial Relations Group; University of Pennsylvania - Management Department


Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 3, 2006

Abstract:     
We report the results of three experiments examining the long-standing debate within tort theory over whether corrective justice is independent of, or parasitic on, distributive justice. Using a "hypothetical societies" paradigm that serves as an impartial reasoning device and permits experimental manipulation of societal conditions, we first tested support for corrective justice in a society where individual merit played no role in determining economic standing. Participants expressed strong support for a norm of corrective justice in response to intentional and unintentional torts in both just and unjust societies. The second experiment tested support for corrective justice in a society where race, rather than individual merit, determined economic standing. The distributive justice manipulation exerted greater effect here, particularly on liberal participants, but support for corrective justice remained strong among non-liberal participants, even against a background of racially unjust distributive conditions. The third experiment partially replicated the first experiment and found that the availability of government-funded insurance had little effect on demands for corrective justice. Overall, the results suggest that, while extreme distributive injustice can moderate support for corrective justice, the norm of corrective justice often dominates judgments about compensatory duties associated with tortious harms.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 56

Keywords: Corrective Justice, Distributive Justice

JEL Classification: K13, A13, D39

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Date posted: July 3, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Gregory and Tetlock, Philip E., An Empirical Inquiry into the Relation of Corrective Justice to Distributive Justice. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 3, 2006. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=912286

Contact Information

Gregory Mitchell (Contact Author)
University of Virginia School of Law ( email )
580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-924-7354 (Phone)

Philip E. Tetlock
University of California, Berkeley - Organizational Behavior & Industrial Relations Group ( email )
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
University of Pennsylvania - Management Department ( email )
The Wharton School
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370
United States

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