Sinel Presents Paper at Harvard Law School Private Law Workshop

A photograph of the Harvard Law building at night.On November 7, Professor Zoë Sinel delivered a paper, “A Right Against Spite?”, for the Fall 2018 Private Law Workshop at Harvard Law School. The workshop, co-hosted by Professor John Goldberg (Harvard) and Professor Jeff Pojanowski (Notre Dame), explores the foundations of private law through paper presentations by outside speakers.

Professor Sinel’s paper defended the orthodox rule that a defendant’s motives are irrelevant for tort liability. She examined both teleological and non-teleological accounts that support a limited tort right against spite. She suggested that while the former threaten to swallow up an integral part of human freedom, that of self-determination, the current leading version of the latter misidentifies whose means are relevant, locating the relevant means as those of the defendant, rather than those of the law. This paper forms part of Professor Sinel’s larger research agenda, a book project, tentatively titled Legal Emotions, that explores and defends private law’s understanding of human emotions.