Tort Law in the Aristotelian Tradition


in The Philosophical Foundations of Tort Law

Published in print July 1997 | ISBN: 9780198265795
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682971 | DOI:
Tort Law in the Aristotelian Tradition

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In medieval and early modern Europe, Aristotle’s brief account of corrective justice in the Nicomachean Ethics was the starting point for those seeking a philosophical explanation of the law of torts. In the thirteenth century, Thomas Aquinas interpreted Aristotle to accommodate ideas taken from Roman and canon law. His interpretation was elaborated by leaders of a Thomist revival such as Tomasso de Vio, better known as Cajetan, Domingo de Soto, Luis de Molina, and Leonard Lessius. They believed that distributive and corrective justice both serve the higher purpose of advancing human welfare and yet are distinct from each other. This chapter is concerned only with their success in the second of these tasks. It argues that they offered a better account of tort law than contemporary tort theorists have managed. The greatest defect of their explanation was a failure to explain strict liability.

Keywords: Aristotle; corrective justice; Nicomachean Ethics; tort law; torts; Thomas Aquinas; Tomasso de Vio; Domingo de Soto; Luis de Molina; Leonard Lessius

Chapter.  14789 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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