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Foundational Principles of Contract Law$
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Melvin A. Eisenberg

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199731404

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199731404.001.0001

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Mechanical Errors (“Unilateral Mistakes”)

Mechanical Errors (“Unilateral Mistakes”)

Chapter:
(p.557) Forty-One Mechanical Errors (“Unilateral Mistakes”)
Source:
Foundational Principles of Contract Law
Author(s):

Melvin A. Eisenberg

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199731404.003.0041

Chapter 41 concerns unilateral mistakes. A unilateral mistake is a transient mental blunder that results from an error in the mechanics of an actor’s mental machinery, such as incorrectly adding a column of figures. Mistakes of these kinds are referred to in this book as mechanical errors. Mechanical errors differ from evaluative mistakes in several critical respects. For one thing, unlike evaluative mistakes the prospect that a counterparty will make a mechanical error normally is not a risk that is bargained for. And unlike evaluative mistakes, relief for mechanical errors would not undermine the very idea of promise: A promisor who seeks relief on the ground of a mechanical error does not assert that all things considered she doesn’t wish to perform. Rather, she asserts that she has a morally acceptable excuse that is well within the systemics of promise.

Keywords:   unilateral mistakes, mechanical mistakes, evaluative mistakes, mental blunders, mental machinery

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