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Zhong Xing (“Zhong”) Tan
S.J.D. 2023

ztan at

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore


“Spheres of Interpersonal Justice: A Framework for Private Law Theory”

A curious feature of contemporary Anglo-American private law theory is that its canon appears to contain no settled conception of distributive justice, or what John Rawls called ‘Justice’ for short. Rights-based, corrective justice and Kantian theorists often see distributive justice as an exclusively macro or public issue, with the micro or private sphere as being limited to the rectification of interpersonal wrongs. Law and economics scholars, while subscribing to the master value of efficiency, likewise believe that this takes primacy over fairness, and that the infusion of distributive considerations has the potential to introduce distortionary effects. At the opposing end, leading critical and progressive scholars tend to eschew a clear conception of distributive justice at either the macro or micro level, preferring to invoke the terminology of ‘tensions’ such as individualism versus altruism. The ambition of this project is to offer an account of distributive justice as it operates in private law, by drawing from leading theories of justice in political philosophy and contemplating how these principles may filter into private law with appropriate modification and contextualisation.

Fields of Research and Supervisors

  • Tort theory and political philosophy with Professor John Goldberg, Harvard Law School, Principal Faculty Supervisor
  • Moral and functionalist perspectives on private law with Professor Henry Smith, Harvard Law School
  • Contract law and theory with Professor Charles Fried, Harvard Law School

Additional Research Interests

  • Legal theory and general jurisprudence
  • Commercial and corporate law


  • Harvard Law School, S.J.D. Candidate 2020-2023
  • Harvard Law School, LL.M. 2017
  • Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore, LL.B. 2012

Academic Appointments and Fellowships

  • Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore

Representative Publications

Additional Information

Last Updated: July 7th, 2023