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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 June 1999

Richard L. Lippke
James Madison University


Numerous legal theorists argue that corrective justice is distinct both conceptually and normatively from distributive justice. In particular, they contend that it is an error to view corrective justice as ancillary to distributive justice, necessary only to maintain or restore a preferred allocation of benefits and burdens. The specific arguments of these legal theorists are addressed and shown to be inconclusive in relation to what I term the Dependence Thesis. The Dependence Thesis holds that a normative account of the occasions of corrective justice is dependent on a larger theory of distributive justice. The nature of this dependence relation varies from theory to theory. The role of tort compensation schemes within libertarian, liberal egalitarian, and utilitarian theories of distributive justice is discussed. It is argued that such theories provide comprehensive and critical perspectives on historical corrective practices, neither simply endorsing nor invalidating them. An alternative normative account of the occasions of corrective justice, offered by legal theorists who support the autonomy of corrective justice from distributive justice, is also discussed.

Research Article
© 1999 Cambridge University Press

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