Twenty-First-Century Tort Theories: The Internalist/Externalist Debate

30 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2013

Date Written: 2013


Each year the current chair of the Section on Torts and Compensation Systems has the privilege of proposing the topic for the section’s panel at the annual meetings. I organized an authors-meet-critics American Association of Law Schools (AALS) Annual Meeting panel highlighting the work of John Goldberg and Benjamin Zipursky because they have established a substantial beachhead in American tort jurisprudence with their theory of civil recourse. This symposium issue of the Indiana Law Journal publishes the papers presented at the AALS’s Section on Torts and Compensation Systems January 5, 2012 panel on “Twenty-First-Century Tort Theories.” The distinguished group of judges and professors on the AALS panel examined the implications of viewing civil recourse’s vision of tort law through the lenses of law and economics, critical feminism, and pluralism. What is civil recourse? Civil recourse theory, which drinks deeply from the well of political theory and moral philosophy, attempts to organize all twenty-first century tort law around the core concepts of private wrongs and accountability. Inspired by the bric-a-brac of Blackstone’s private wrongs, civil recourse’s focus is about one-on-one relationships between an injured plaintiff and her right of recourse against an individual defendant.

Suggested Citation

Rustad, Michael L., Twenty-First-Century Tort Theories: The Internalist/Externalist Debate (2013). Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 88, p. 419, 2013; Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 13-12. Available at SSRN:

Michael L. Rustad (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States

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