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Torts and Rights$
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Robert Stevens

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199211609

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199211609.001.0001

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(p.320) 15 Justice
Torts and Rights

Robert Stevens

Oxford University Press

It is common to try to explain the law of torts through one or more of the instrumentalist goals it could be thought to pursue. These goals, such as compensation, deterrence, loss spreading and punishment, cannot justify the law as it is currently found. Corrective justice is an alternative, but requires explication. On a narrow view, corrective justice solely justifies the secondary obligations of correction created by the infringement of primary rights, but does not explain the primary rights themselves. On a wider view, corrective justice is intended to mean the bilateral justice as between any two persons. Used in this broader sense the label ‘corrective justice’ is misleading, and the label commutative justice may be preferred. The common law is based upon our natural rights, one against another, based upon the negative formulation of the Golden Rule: do not do unto others what you would not want done unto yourself.

Keywords:   corrective justice, commutative justice, natural rights, compensation, deterrence, Golden Rule

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