Ripstein, Reasonableness, and Objectivity

29 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2001

See all articles by Larry Alexander

Larry Alexander

University of San Diego School of Law

Date Written: May 2001


In this review essay, I examine and criticize Arthur Ripstein's notions of objectivity and reasonableness that he makes central to the philosophy of both tort law and criminal law. Ripstein holds that what is reasonable conduct is an objective matter that turns neither on how the actor perceives the situation nor on the particular costs and benefits that will accrue to the actor from engaging or failing to engage in the conduct. On the other hand, Ripstein does argue that how conduct appears "objectively" is relevant to the doctrines of self-defense and attempts.

I argue that Ripstein's notions of objectivity and reasonableness are both theoretically untenable and normatively inert. At bottom, the source of Ripstein's difficulty is the point that both risk and appearance are always perspectival-relative to someone's point of view.

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Lawrence, Ripstein, Reasonableness, and Objectivity (May 2001). Law & Philosophy, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: or

Lawrence Alexander (Contact Author)

University of San Diego School of Law ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States
619-260-2317 (Phone)
619-260-4728 (Fax)

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics