Distinguished Professor of Law
John F. K. Oberdiek
Rutgers Law School
217 N 5th St
Camden, NJ 08102

John Oberdiek writes in tort theory and law and philosophy more broadly and is the author of Imposing Risk: A Normative Framework (Oxford 2017). He has been a Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellow at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton and is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed journal Law and Philosophy as well as Co-Director of the Rutgers Institute for Law and Philosophy. Professor Oberdiek is the 2023 recipient of the Fred Berger Memorial Prize in Philosophy of Law, awarded by the American Philosophical Association.


  • Biography
  • Publications
  • Courses Taught
  • Expertise

John Oberdiek writes and teaches in torts and tort theory, private law theory generally, as well as legal, political, and moral philosophy, and has won awards for both his scholarship and teaching. He is a graduate of Middlebury College, and studied philosophy and law as a post-graduate at Oxford, NYU, and the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty in 2004, he practiced law at Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C.

Professor Oberdiek has presented his work widely in colloquia, including at Yale, Harvard, and Virginia, and at major conferences, including Kings College London's Moral Values and Private Law conference, Northwestern's Society for the Theory of Ethics and Politics conference, the North American Workshop in Private Law Theory, and the Analytic Legal Philosophy Conference. He is a past chair of the AALS's sections on both Jurisprudence and Scholarship. He has been a Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellow in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton as well as a visiting professor at the University of Graz, Austria. He served for two years as Acting Dean and then Acting Co-Dean, helping to lead the merger that created Rutgers Law School, following a two-year term as Vice Dean.   

In addition, Professor Oberdiek is Associate Graduate Faculty in the Rutgers-New Brunswick Philosophy Department, a Faculty Affiliate of the Rutgers Center for Population-Level Bioethics, and a Director of the Rutgers Institute for Law and Philosophy, under whose auspices he has organized several major conferences. He is also Co-Editor of the peer-reviewed professional journal Law and Philosophy, Co-Editor of the biennial series of articles Oxford Studies in Private Law Theory as well as the Oxford Private Law Theory book series, a member of the Editorial Board of Legal Theory, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and both a member of the American Law Institute and an Adviser to the ALI's Restatement (Fourth) of Property. 


Authored Books:

Imposing Risk: A Normative Framework (Oxford, 2017) (monograph in Oxford Legal Philosophy series edited by Timothy Endicott, John Gardner, and Leslie Green)

Edited Books:

Oxford Studies in Private Law Theory, Volume II (Oxford, 2023) (second volume in series publishing leading new work in private law theory, co-edited with Paul Miller)

Oxford Studies in Private Law Theory, Volume I (Oxford, 2020) (inaugural volume in a series publishing leading new work in private law theory, co-edited with Paul Miller)

Civil Wrongs and Justice in Private Law (Oxford, 2020) (collection of new thematic essays in private law theory, co-edited with Paul Miller)

Philosophical Foundations of the Law of Torts (Oxford, 2014) (collection of new essays in tort theory, appearing in the Oxford Philosophical Foundations of Law series)

Arguing About Law (Routledge, 2009) (600-page anthology of leading articles in philosophy of law and jurisprudence with significant editorial content, co-edited with Aileen Kavanagh) 

Articles, Chapters, and Other Publications:

"The Trouble with Trespass," in Leslie Green and Brian Leiter (eds.), Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Law, Volume V (Oxford, forthcoming 2023)

"Wrongs, Remedies, and the Persistence of Reasons: Re-examining the Continuity Thesis," in Haris Psarras and Sandy Steel (eds.), Private Law and Practical Reason: Essays on John Gardner's Private Law Theory (Oxford, 2023)

"The Wrong in Negligence," 41 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 1174 (2021)

Book Review: Recognizing Wrongs, John Goldberg and Benjamin Zipursky (Harvard, 2020), Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 2020.06.32

"It's Something Personal: On the Relationality of Duty and Civil Wrongs," in Paul Miller and John Oberdiek (eds.), Civil Wrongs and Justice in Private Law (Oxford, 2020)

"Introduction: Civil Wrongs and Justice in Private Law," in Paul Miller and John Oberdiek (eds.), Civil Wrongs and Justice in Private Law (Oxford, 2020) (with Paul Miller)

"Putting (and Keeping) Proximate Cause in its Place," in Kimberly Kessler Ferzan and Stephen Morse (eds.), Legal, Moral, and Metaphysical Truths: The Philosophy of Michael S. Moore (Oxford, 2016)

"The Ideal of Justice," 5 Jurisprudence 363 (December 2014) (symposium on Amartya Sen's The Idea of Justice, with reply by Sen)

"Structure and Justification in Contractualist Tort Theory," in John Oberdiek (ed.), Philosophical Foundations of the Law of Torts (Oxford, 2014)

"Introduction: Philosophical Foundations of the Law of Torts," in John Oberdiek (ed.), Philosophical Foundations of the Law of Torts (Oxford, 2014)

"Foreword: Sen's Idea of Justice," 43 Rutgers Law Journal 167 (2012) (symposium)

"The Moral Significance of Risking," 17 Legal Theory 339 (2012)

"Method and Morality in the New Private Law of Torts," 125 Harvard Law Review Forum 189 (2012) (symposium)

"Philosophy of Law: Normative Foundations," in Duncan Pritchard (ed.), Oxford Bibliographies Online: Philosophy (Oxford 2012)

"Specifying Constitutional Rights," 27 Constitutional Commentary 231 (2010) 

"Risk," in Dennis Patterson (ed.), A Companion to Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory, Second Edition (Wiley-Blackwell 2010)

"Towards a Right Against Risking," 28 Law and Philosophy 367 (2009)

"Philosophical Issues in Tort Law," 3 Philosophy Compass 734 (2008)

"What's Wrong with Infringements (Insofar as Infringements are Not Wrong): A Reply," 27 Law and Philosophy 293 (2008)

"Specifying Rights Out of Necessity," 28 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 127 (2008), reprinted in A. M. Viens and Michael J. Selgelid (eds.), Emergency Ethics: Volume 1 (Ashgate 2012)

"Culpability and the Definition of Deontological Constraints" 27 Law and Philosophy 105 (2008) 

"Moral Evaluation and Conceptual Analysis in Jurisprudential Methodology," in Michael Freeman and Ross Harrison (eds.), Current Legal Issues: Law and Philosophy (Oxford, 2007) (with Dennis Patterson) 

Book Review: Law and Risk, edited by the Law Commission of Canada, 44 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 590 (2006) 

"The Ethics in Risk Regulation: Towards a Contractualist Re-Orientation," 36 Rutgers Law Journal 199 (2004) (symposium) 

"Lost in Moral Space: On the Infringing/Violating Distinction and its Place in the Theory of Rights," 23 Law and Philosophy 325 (2004)

"Reasons, Motivation, and Sexism: A Comment on John Robertson's 'Preconception Sex Selection'", 1 American Journal of Bioethics 38 (2001).


Tort Law in Principle (book on tort theory under contract with Cambridge University Press)

"Public Policy in the Private Law of Torts"

"Personal Interests and the Foundation of Relational Duties" (with Robert Mullins)

"Perfecting Distributive Justice" 

  • Damages
  • Property
  • Bioethics
  • Jurisprudence
  • Philosophy (Law &)
  • Products Liability
  • Torts