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Michael Freeman and Ross Harrison

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199237159

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199237159.001.0001

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Contracts, Promises, and the Demands of Moral Agency

Contracts, Promises, and the Demands of Moral Agency

(p.288) 16 Contracts, Promises, and the Demands of Moral Agency
Law and Philosophy

Emmanuel Voyiakis

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses some aspects of how general moral theory, and our intuitions about the demands of moral agency and responsibility in particular, could help moral agents respond to this problem. The chapter is divided into three parts. Part I describes a couple of general parameters of the task of justifying contract law by appealing to conceptions of moral agency. Part II discusses Seana Shiffrin's recent account of that question. Part III concludes by drawing out some implications of the points in the preceding parts for contract theory. The chapter puts forward two claims. First is that we have good reason to be morally sceptical towards accounts of contract law that show the bulk of what we uncontroversially take to be its rules and doctrines to be unjustified. The second and broader claim is that for all its surface appeal, the quest to accommodate contract law within a general conception of moral agency and responsibility underdetermines a host of important disagreements about which aspects of our agency contract law speaks most pertinently to.

Keywords:   moral theory, responsibility, contract law, Seana Shiffrin

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