Law and Philosophy 41 (1):127-166 (2022)

Jack Goldberg
Washington University in St. Louis
With gratitude for our commentators’ thoughtful and generous engagement with Recognizing Wrongs, we offer in this reply a thumbnail summary of their comments and responses to some of their most important questions and criticisms. In the spirit of friendly amendment, Tom Dougherty and Johann Frick suggest that a more satisfactory version of our theory would cast tort actions as a means of enforcing wrongdoers’ moral duties of repair. We provide both legal and moral reasons for declining their invitation. Rebecca Stone draws a particular link between civil recourse in private law theory and the right of self-defense as recognized in criminal law and moral theory. While we share Stone’s basic inclination, we argue for a different version of the link than the one that she draws. Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco provides a critique of our model of negligence law based on action theory. In response, we explain – in a way that we hope sheds light on debates over moral luck – how it is possible for the law to define negligence such that its commission depends simultaneously on the character of the defendant’s conduct and on the consequences that result from it. Though generally sympathetic to our approach, Stephen Smith faults us for failing satisfactorily to explain important remedial dimensions of tort law. Stubbornly, we insist that we can account for these, and indeed can do so on more satisfactory terms than corrective justice theorists. Finally, Erin Kelly challenges us to consider how our work might inform the analysis of two pressing issues of racial justice: overcriminalization and reparation payments. While we question whether our work to date has as much to offer on these matters as she suggests, we also maintain that the core principle of civil recourse theory – where there is a right there is a remedy – provides grounds for critiquing modern law’s failure to provide adequate accountability when police officers use excessive force against persons of color.
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DOI 10.1007/s10982-021-09429-3
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