Kenneth W. Simons

Chancellor’s Professor of Law

Professor of Philosophy (courtesy)

Kenneth W. Simons


Torts, criminal law, moral and political philosophy


Professor Simons is a leading scholar of tort law, criminal law, and law and philosophy and Co-director of the Center for Legal Philosophy. He has served since 2014 as Chief Reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement Third of Torts: Intentional Torts to Persons. In January 2019, he was the recipient of the 2019 William L. Prosser Award by the Association of American Law Schools Section on Torts and Compensation Systems, which recognizes “outstanding contributions of law teachers in scholarship, teaching and service” related to tort law and compensation systems.

Professor Simons has published influential scholarship concerning consent, assumption of risk and contributory negligence; the nature and role of mental states in criminal, tort and constitutional law; and negligence as a moral and legal concept. He has also explored such topics as bias crimes, corrective justice, the logic of egalitarian norms, mistake and impossibility in criminal law, and strict criminal liability.

Before joining UC Irvine School of Law, Prof. Simons was Professor of Law and The Honorable Frank R. Kenison Distinguished Scholar in Law at Boston University School of Law. He was a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and to Judge James L. Oakes, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Prof. Simons also worked as an associate at Goodwin, Procter & Hoar in Boston, in the field of civil litigation. He received his J.D. from Michigan Law School, magna cum laude, and graduated from Yale University, summa cum laude, with a B.A. in philosophy.

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Prof. Simons’ Scholarly Papers on SSRN
  • June 9, 2023
    Presenter, “Lost Chance of a Better Medical Outcome: New Tort, New Type of Compensable Injury or New Causation Rule?,” for Clifford Symposium on Tort Law and Social Policy: New Torts?, DePaul College of Law
  • May 10, 2023
    Presenter, “How Does Criminal Law Recklessness Differ from Negligence and from Knowledge?,” to Assize Seminar in Cutting-Edge Criminal Law, Bindman’s LLP, London, England
  • May 9, 2023
    Invited participant, Conference: Burning Questions in Criminal Theory, University of Notre Dame, London, England
  • May 2, 2023
    Presenter, “Actual, Apparent, Hypothetical and Implied-in-law Consent in Tort Law,” to Obligations Discussion Group, Oxford University, Oxford, England
  • February 24-25, 2023
    Invited participant, North American Workshop on Private Law Theory X, UCLA School of Law
  • Jan. 22, 2021
    Speaker, Grimshaw v Ford Motors, American Museum of Tort Law, Online
  • Sept. 25-26, 2020
    Presenter, “Willful Blindness Doctrine: Justifiable in Theory, Problem in Practice,” Arizona State University Symposium on Mens Rea Reform, Online
  • July 27, 2020
    Presenter, “Willful Blindness Doctrine: Justifiable in Theory, Problem in Practice,” Southern California Criminal Justice Scholars Roundtable, Online
  • May 2020
    Presenter, “Reporters’ Guide to Restatement of the Law Third, Torts: Intentional Torts to Persons, Tentative Draft No. 5,” American Law Institute, Online
  • Aug. 10, 2019
    Presenter, "The Hegemony of the Reasonable Person in Anglo-American Tort Law," Oxford Studies in Private Law Theory Workshop, London, UK
  • March 25, 2019
    Presenter, "Actual, Apparent, Hypothetical, and Implied-in-law Consent in Tort Law," Research School of Social Science at Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  • March 14, 2019
    Speaker, “Intention in Tort Law,” Roundtable at the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  • March 13, 2019
    Presenter, "Actual, Apparent, Hypothetical, and Implied-in-law Consent in Tort Law," University of Sydney Law School, Sydney, Australia
  • March 6, 2019 
    Presenter, “The Hegemony of the Reasonable Person in Anglo-American Tort Law,” Melbourne Law School, Melbourne, Australia
  • Jan. 4, 2019
    Speaker, Torts and Compensation Systems, Co-Sponsored by Law, Medicine and Health Care, 2019 AALS Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA
  • Oct. 19, 2018
    Chief Reporter of the Restatement, Third of Torts: International Torts to Person, Presenter, Council Draft 5, American Law Institute Council Meeting, New York, NY
  • Dec. 1-2, 2017
    Invited participant, North American Private Law Theory-V, University of Southern California Gould School of Law.  Will present paper, “Consent in Tort Law: Categories and Complexities.”
  • Sept. 15-16, 2017
    Invited participant, Conference on Alexander & Ferzan, Reflections on Crime and Culpability (book manuscript), University of Virginia School of Law
  • April 29, 2017
    Participant, Roundtable on Identified v. Statistical Victims, University of San Diego School of Law
  • March 31, 2017
    Invited participant, Presenter, “Can Strict Criminal Liability for Responsible Corporate Officers be Justified by the Duty to Use Extraordinary Care?” Conference on Crime Without Fault: The Justifiability of Public Welfare Offenses and the Responsible Corporate Officer Doctrine, Georgetown Law School
  • Nov. 11-12, 2016
    Invited participant, Conference on Self-Defense, University of San Diego School of Law, presented paper, “Self-defense, Necessity and the Duty to Compensate, in Law and Morality.”
  • July 19-22, 2016
    Invited Participant, Obligations VIII Conference, Revolutions in Private Law, University of Cambridge, England.  Presented paper, “The Hegemony of the Reasonable Person in Anglo-American Tort Law”
  • April 29, 2016
    Presenter, “The Hegemony of the Reasonable Person in Anglo-American Tort Law,” University of San Diego School of Law Faculty Colloquium
  • March 30, 2016
    Presenter, Chancellor’s Professor Lecture, “Assumption of Risk and Consent in the Twenty-First Century,” University of California, Irvine School of Law
  • Nov. 13–14, 2015
    Invited presenter, “Punishment and Blame for Culpable Indifference,” Criminal Law Theory Conference, Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Oct. 23–24, 2015
    Invited participant, The North American Workshop on Private Law Theory, University of Toronto
  • Sept. 11–12, 2015
    Invited participant, Yale Center for Law and Philosophy, Roundtable on Douglas Husak, Ignorance of Law: A Philosophical Inquiry, New Haven CT
  • April 2, 2015:
    Speaker, “Can jurors understand the mental state categories employed in the criminal law?” Criminal Justice Forum, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University