Lecturer, Civil Recourse and Pragmatic Conceptualism in Tort Theory: The Case of Online Defamation

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Professor Benjamin C. Zipursky lectured on tort law at Valparaiso Law School in Indiana.

Many tort theories are viewed as too ethereal – as excessively caught up in moral platitudes about justice or economic abstractions about what would happen in a world of zero transactions costs. Civil Recourse theory, when combined with pragmatic conceptualism, gets beyond the ethereal to the real.   It generates sophisticated but down-to-earth answers to today’s central questions, identifying and correcting serious missteps by other scholars and pointing courts in the right direction. This lecture does so by focusing on an area of tort law too frequently left to non-tort scholars – internet defamation. By carefully deploying fundamental tort distinctions between acting and failing to act, the lecture shows that courts have radically over-expanded Congressional immunity for online defamation.

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