Nichols Lecture

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Yale Law School Professor Jules Coleman discusses several views of tort law at the Nichols Lecture at Stetson Law.

Yale Law School Professor Jules Coleman discusses several views of tort law at the Nichols Lecture at Stetson Law. Click for high-resolution image.

Professor Jules L. Coleman of Yale Law School presented the distinguished Nichols Lecture to a capacity crowd of students and faculty on Oct. 21 in the Great Hall on Stetson University College of Law’s Gulfport campus. Professor Coleman has been described as one of the world’s most influential philosophers of law.

Coleman  encouraged Stetson Law students to think about the  purpose and nature of liability in  the  law of torts  and how liability is understood from the two leading theoretical perspectives on torts:  law and economics and corrective justice.

He observed that  economists view  the  tort system as a tool for achieving the  most efficient cost-avoidance, and  tort liability as simply a means to that end.  He  then  encouraged students to consider liability and torts in a different light. He explained  that giving people  the authority to demand accountability from others is more about accountability than liability.  “My aim is to get you to see that tort law is not just a mechanism  by which we solve  a variety of social problems,” Professor Coleman explained, referring to how the law helps make cars safer, baby cribs safer, and drugs safer. Instead, tort law can be used to  make us more accountable to one another by emphasizing decency,  responsibility and fairness.

Coleman is the Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld Professor of Jurisprudence and Professor of Philosophy at Yale Law School, author of The Practice of Principle: In Defence of a Pragmatist Approach to Legal Theory, and the immediate past editor of the Legal Theory journal, which he helped found and edited for 15 years. He directs the Yale Center for Law and Philosophy and is a prolific author who has written dozens of articles and several books about legal theory, philosophy and ethics. His work has been translated into at least four languages.

The Nichols Foundation Prominent Speakers Series was established at Stetson in 1995. The series’ namesake is Perry Nichols, among the nation’s most successful trial lawyers and past president of both the American Trial Lawyers Association and the International Trial Lawyers Association.