The Search for a Grand Unified Theory of Tort Law

30 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2017 Last revised: 27 Jan 2017

See all articles by Scott Hershovitz

Scott Hershovitz

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: January 5, 2017


In Arthur Ripstein's new book "Private Wrongs," he argues that one simple idea accounts for all of tort's rights and remedies: no one is in charge of anyone else. In this review, I argue that Ripstein is wrong about that. I outline his account of tort, and then set out (some of) the details of the doctrine for which he has failed to account. I also argue that the ambition of Ripstein's book is misguided: we ought not expect simple explanations for complicated and contingent institutions, like tort. Nevertheless, I find lots to admire in Ripstein's book, and I recommend it to everyone who is interested in private law.

Keywords: tort law, tort theory, private law, arthur ripstein, battery, negligence, strict liability, remedies, intrusion on seclusion, philosophy of law

JEL Classification: K13

Suggested Citation

Hershovitz, Scott, The Search for a Grand Unified Theory of Tort Law (January 5, 2017). Harvard Law Review, Vol. 130, No. 3, p. 942, 2017, Available at SSRN:

Scott Hershovitz (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

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Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

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