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"Interpreting Torts, Explaining Contracts," 15 Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, 747 (1992)


Jules Coleman has written a rich book about corrective justice and its relation to current contract and tort law. In Risks and Wrongs,l he examines and interprets these bodies of law in an attempt to reveal their "point."2 Contracts and torts are broad legal fields that are covered by an extensive body of scholarship. Thus, Coleman's goal can be realized only on a high level of abstraction. Despite the inevitable omissions that such a treatment requires-Coleman analyzes only one actual contracts case and very few tort cases-his account is useful and interesting. The book synthesizes the central themes that have occupied judges and scholars in the fields of torts and contracts, illustrates in enlightening ways the relationships among these themes, clearly sets out and persuasively criticizes prior scholarly accounts, and makes new arguments about the nature of corrective justice. Part I of this article examines three particularly insightful contributions by Coleman; later parts, in contrast, raise questions about Coleman's interpretations and his economic analysis.

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