Torts, Corrective Justice, and Distributive Justice

Legal Theory 5 (1999): 149-69

Posted: 16 Dec 2012

Date Written: 1999


Numerous legal theorists argue that corrective justice is distinct both conceptually and normatively from distributive justice. In particular, they contend that it is an error to view corrective justice as ancillary to distributive justice and thus as necessary only to maintain or restore a preferred allocation of benefits and burdens. The arguments of these theorists are examined and shown to be inconclusive in relation to what I term the "Dependence Thesis." This thesis holds that a normative account of the occasions of corrective justice is dependent on a larger theory of distributive justice. The nature of the dependence relation varies from one theory of distributive justice to another. Specifically, the role of tort compensation schemes within libertarian, liberal egalitarian, and utilitarian theories of distributive justice is discussed.

Keywords: tort compensation, corrective justice, distributive justice

Suggested Citation

Lippke, Richard, Torts, Corrective Justice, and Distributive Justice (1999). Legal Theory 5 (1999): 149-69, Available at SSRN:

Richard Lippke (Contact Author)

Indiana University ( email )

Department of Criminal Justice
Bloomington, IN
United States
812-856-6049 (Phone)

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