Category Archives: Deontic theory


“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 […]

JE Penner, ‘We All Make Mistakes: A “Duty of Virtue” Theory of Restitutionary Liability for Mistaken Payments’

Abstract In contrast to the moral foundations of contract, tort, and the law of property, which are generally regarded as elements of Kantian ‘right’, the liability to return the value of mistaken payments is, it is argued, an example of the law’s enforcing a duty of virtue, the legalisation of the duty of beneficence in […]

Hurd and Moore, ‘The Hohfeldian Analysis of Rights’

Abstract This article is about Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld’s famous analysis of one of the most basic concepts used in law and in ethics: the concept of a right. Hohfeld urged that usages of the term ‘right’ are ambiguous between two senses of the word: persons have rights to do things and rights to have things […]

‘Shiffrin on Morality and Negligence’

“Seana Shiffrin’s The Moral Neglect of Negligence (Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy vol 3) has been posted on dropbox. Here is an excerpt: ‘The moral significance of negligence is regularly downplayed in the legal and philosophical literature. Some question whether negligence is a coherent wrong at all, while others locate it on a fairly low […]

John Gardner, ‘Tort Law and Its Theory’

Abstract This paper explores the body of scholarly writing known as ‘tort theory’, and in particular the polarization of ‘economic’ and ‘moral’ approaches to the subject. It queries the ambitions, the discourses, and the presuppositions of work on both sides of that divide. In particular it investigates: the sense in which both approaches are (and […]

Zamir and Medina, ‘Deontological Morality and Economic Analysis of Law’

Abstract Welfare economics – the normative branch of economics – is a consequentialist moral theory. Unlike deontological morality, at least in its basic form it attributes no intrinsic value to prohibitions on active or intentional harming of other people, lying, or promise breaking, and does not allow people to prioritize their own interests over the […]

Alejandro Miranda, ‘Consequentialism, the Action/Omission Distinction, and the Principle of Double Effect: Three Rival Criteria to Solve Vital Conflicts in Cases of Necessity’

Abstract In this paper, the principle of double effect is compared with two other methods to solve vital conflicts in cases of necessity, ie, situations in which the life of a person can only be saved by an action that causes the death of another. After determining some key concepts, the consequentialist method of moral […]