Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1996

Center/Program

Center for Law and Philosophy

Abstract

Blackstone had a point in identifying crimes as public wrongs and torts as private wrongs.1 Both crimes and torts claim victims, however, the victims' responses vary according to context. In criminal cases, the victim responds by hoping that the government will apprehend and successfully prosecute the offender.2 In tort disputes, the victim responds by demanding compensation.3

It is unclear, however, what constitutes wrongdoing. Defining wrongdoing as the violation of rights is unhelpful, for that definition only raises other questions: Who has rights and what is their content? Therefore, to understand the nature of wrongdoing, we should seek a substantive theory of wrongdoing-an account of what is wrong and why it is wrong. I wish to venture a theory of this sort by examining the role of dominance, or domination, in wrongdoing.

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