Category Archives: Deontic theory

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 […]

Ahson Azmat, ‘The Grounds of Tort, Part I: Private Wrongs and Practical Reasoning’

Abstract Tort theory is widely thought to split cleanly into two seams. Some trace tort’s foundations to a deontic form of morality; others to an instrumental, policy-oriented system of loss allocation. Civil Recourse Theory (CRT) resists this binary. It argues that torts comprise a basic legal category, and that this category constitutes an autonomous domain […]

Emily Sherwin, ‘The Rationality of Promising’

Abstract This essay first examines various conceptions of promissory obligation, which suggest a range of possible benefits associated with promising. Theories of temporally extended practical rationality suggest that to obtain benefits of this kind, it may be rational for a promisor to treat his or her promise as binding. The difficulty is that, whatever practical […]