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Is the Reasonable Person a Person of Virtue?

  • Michele ManginiEmail author


The ‘reasonable person standard’ (RPS) is often called on in difficult legal cases as the last resource to be appealed to when other solutions run out. Its complexity derives from the controversial tasks that people place on it. Two dialectics require some clarification: the objective/subjective interpretation of the standard and the ideal/ordinary person controversy. I shall move through these dialectics from the standpoint of an EV (ethics of virtues) approach, assuming that on this interpretation the RPS can perform most persuasively its tasks. The all-round model of phronetic agent that I present not only works better than competing models—such as the utilitarian–economic and the Rawlsian—in the law of tort but shows its best potentialities in other kinds of cases. In criminal law and matrimonial law cases the recourse to the EV approach offers through the virtues rich and substantial resources to evaluate conflictual cases. This approach makes the threshold of evaluation much closer to real life than competitors.


Ethics of virtues Reasonable person Torts Criminal law Matrimonial law 



This paper has passed through a series of revisions and I have to thank a few people who have greatly contributed to its improvement, reading its different versions: John Gardner, John Goldberg, Frank Michelman, Vittorio Villa and Zenon Bankowski. Needless to say all mistakes remain my responsibility.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LawUniversity of BariBariItaly

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