Tort Law in the Aristotelian Tradition
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.
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