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Justice, corrective

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-T069-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2001
Retrieved June 22, 2024, from

Article Summary

In his treatment of justice Aristotle articulated a contrast between two forms of justice, corrective and distributive. The former deals with the rectification of an injustice inflicted by one person on another, the latter with the distribution of benefits or burdens. These forms of justice have differing structures. What informs distributive justice is the notion of comparison: a greater share goes to the more meritorious under the distributive criterion. What informs corrective justice is the notion of correlativity or mutuality: an injurer has inflicted wrongful harm on a victim if and only if the victim has suffered wrongful harm through the injurer’s conduct. The parties, as doer and sufferer of the same injustice, are the active and passive poles of a single wrong, which the law rectifies by holding the perpetrator liable to the victim.

In recent decades corrective justice (along with its differentiation from distributive justice) has attracted the attention of legal theorists interested in tort law as a repository of normative judgements and insights about wrongful injuries. These theorists view the notion of correlativity as crucial for understanding the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant. An emphasis on correlativity illuminates both the arguments that properly belong within a system of liability and the connection between corrective justice as a theoretical idea and legal liability as a familiar institutional practice. This entry outlines the role of corrective justice in contemporary tort theory.

Citing this article:
Weinrib, Ernest J.. Justice, corrective, 2001, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-T069-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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