Category Archives: Deontic theory

Stephanie Collins, ‘When does “Can” imply “Ought”?’

Abstract The Assistance Principle is common currency to a wide range of moral theories. Roughly, this principle states: if you can fulfil important interests, at not too high a cost, then you have a moral duty to do so. I argue that, in determining whether the ‘not too high a cost’ clause of this principle […]

‘The Morality of Risking’

John Oberdiek, Imposing Risk: A Normative Framework (2017). In this book, legal scholar and philosopher John Oberdiek offers an elegantly written, meticulously argued, and highly original account of when it is morally permissible to impose mortal risks on others. Tort scholars and theorists have long examined the permissibility of risky conduct, but, as Oberdiek observes, […]

Kim Treiger-Bar-Am, ‘Speech, Balance, and a Telos of Respect: Review of Abraham Drassinower’s What’s Wrong with Copying?’

Abstract In an analysis of both clarity and depth, Abraham Drassimower calls copyright a right in speech, and justifies it on a rights-based norm. I applaud Drassinower’s use of theory of Immanuel Kant to support his analysis. I believe Drassinower can go further with Kant. Kantian theory may be understood to support a view of […]

Justin Capes, ‘Strict Moral Liability’

Introduction “Strict liability in tort law is thought by some to have a moral counterpart. It’s been said that a person is, or can be, morally obligated to make restitution to those he harms or whose property he damages regardless of whether he’s culpable for the injury or the behavior from which it resulted. Others, […]

Ahson Azmat, ‘Joint-Carving in Deontic Tort’

Abstract Many legal theorists refuse to reduce the rules, rights, and wrongs of tort into the policy-based prices, sanctions, and tolls of Holmesian instrumentalism. This refusal is not merely an interpretive position within tort law, or private law more generally. Properly construed, deontic views of tort amount to some form of metaethical non-naturalism. And while […]

Marc Cohen, ‘Apology as Self-Repair’

Abstract Bernard Williams (1981) briefly discusses agent regret in his broader account of moral luck. The present paper first outlines one way to develop Williams’s notion with reference to the unintended harm; it then suggests that agent regret can be counteracted by externalizing the action that caused unintended harm, in Harry Frankfurt’s (1988a, b) sense […]

Robert Mullins, ‘Detachment and Deontic Language in Law’

Abstract Some legal philosophers regard the use of deontic language to describe the law as philosophically significant. Joseph Raz argues that it gives rise to ‘the problem of normativity of law’. He develops an account of what he calls ‘detached’ legal statements to resolve the problem. Unfortunately, Raz’s account is difficult to reconcile with the […]

Ernest Weinrib, ‘Ownership, Use, and Exclusivity: The Kantian Approach’

Abstract Ownership combines the owner’s right to exclude others from the owned object and the owner’s liberty to use that object. This article addresses the relationship between using and excluding, by presenting Grotius’s and Kant’s classic accounts of ownership. Grotius’s approach treats use and exclusivity as separate notions, with the latter evolving out of the […]


“The term ‘contractualism’ can be used in a broad sense – to indicate the view that morality is based on contract or agreement – or in a narrow sense – to refer to a particular view developed in recent years by the Harvard philosopher TM Scanlon, especially in his book What We Owe to Each […]

Matthew Kramer, ‘The Demandingness of Deontological Duties’

Abstract Consequentialist doctrines have often been criticized for their excessive demandingness, in that they require the thorough instrumentalization of each person’s life as a vehicle for the production of good consequences. In turn, the proponents of such doctrines have often objected to what they perceive as the irrationality of the demandingness of deontological duties. In […]