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Philosophical Foundations of Contract Law$
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Gregory Klass, George Letsas, and Prince Saprai

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198713012

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198713012.001.0001

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Promises, Agreements, and Contracts

Promises, Agreements, and Contracts

(p.116) 7 Promises, Agreements, and Contracts
Philosophical Foundations of Contract Law

James Penner

Oxford University Press

Whilst everyone agrees that contractual obligations are voluntarily undertaken, agreements, not (as traditionally claimed) promises are the form of voluntarily undertaken obligations that underlie contracts. Agreements and promises have different normative functions, and through an examination of Shiffrin’s discussion of voluntarily undertaken obligations between persons in intimate relationships, it is shown that agreements, not contracts, are the sorts of obligations intimates typically enter into, and that securing or making promises is typically “pathological” or “dysfunctional” in intimate relationships. Finally, it is claimed that there is no need of a convention for agreements to be entered into; all that is required are the capacities of practical reason and interpersonal communication.

Keywords:   promise, agreement, contract, voluntary obligations, intimate relationships, Shiffrin, Scanlon

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