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A Theory of Contract Law: Empirical Insights and Moral Psychology$
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Peter A. Alces

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195371604

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195371604.001.0001

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Failure of Normative Contract Theory

Failure of Normative Contract Theory

(p.1) 1 Failure of Normative Contract Theory
A Theory of Contract Law: Empirical Insights and Moral Psychology

Peter A. Alces (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

A viable unifying theory of contract would be useful as a heuristic device: It would provide intellectual leverage and could determine both how doctrine should be applied and predict how it will be applied. But contract does not hue to a single normative theory; it is, instead, dependent on an accommodation of deontic and consequentialist inclinations. The nature of contract is revealed through understanding the reason why unitary theories have been inadequate. This chapter examines the theoretical inquiry and suggests why extant theory fails to account for all of contract. The actions of human agents may best be explained as the product of a combination of consequentialist and non-consequentialist impulses. It may be possible to understand contract doctrine as a means to facilitate an empirical morality.

Keywords:   contract theory, contractarianism, aretaic theory, communitarian theory, consequentialism, deontology, human agency, rational choice theory, behavioural decision theory, empirical morality

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