Professor Scott Hershovitz Delivers Monsanto Lecture on Tort Jurisprudence

Scott Hershovitz

Professor Scott Hershovitz from the University of Michigan Law School, delivered the annual Monsanto Lecture on Tort Jurisprudence at Valparaiso University Law School. The title of the lecture was, “What is Tort Law? What Can it Do?” His purpose in the lecture was to suggest a new account of the goal of the tort system.

For several decades, the two opposing justifications for private civil suits for tort compensation have been economic efficiency and corrective justice. Professor Hershovitz critiqued both point of view and questioned whether either one could fully explain why the law relied on a system of personal litigation to redress unsafe behavior and products. First, he used several hypothetical’s to show that economic efficiency can be detached from the requirement that it is the victim who receives the tort award. If this is so, Professor Hershovitz argued that economic efficiency cannot justify the current legal regime – even in its own terms. But then he went on question whether the standard justification given by most corrective justice theorists could be fully explanatory either. From his perspective, to more deeply understand the nature and function of tort law, the legal and social uses of revenge need to be taken into account.

Professor Hershovitz graduated summa cum laude from the University of Georgia and Yale Law School. He holds a M.A. in philosophy and received a Doctor of Philosophy in Law from the University of Oxford where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. He previously clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge William A. Fletcher of the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. He currently teaches jurisprudence and tort law at the University of Michigan Law School.

The Monsanto Lecture series occurs annually and was endowed by a gift from the Monsanto Fund. Mr. Richard Duesenberg, a 1953 graduate of Valparaiso University Law School, helped to make this lecture series possible. He served as Monsanto’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel and Secretary.

Images for this event can be found on Flickr: