Peter Benson, ‘The Demands of an Interpretive Theory of Contract – A Response to Robin Kar, Contract as Empowerment

Introduction:
“Professor Robin Kar’s Contract as Empowerment represents a thoughtful and ambitious effort to introduce a unified general theory of contract law that, in his words, ‘offers a fundamental reinterpretation of the basic principles that animate contract law’ and that, on this basis, can harmonize the ‘central doctrinal challenges for modern contract theory’. As Kar rightly points out, contract as empowerment goes against the current of prevailing contract theories. Unlike economic approaches, it is a noninstrumentalist theory that aims to provide a reasonable interpretation of the settled principles of contract law taken on their own terms. In doing so, the theory justifies these principles on moral grounds consistent with contracts having genuine, legally obligatory (coercive) force. His conception of interpretive legal theory rejects the widely and uncritically assumed dichotomy between ‘descriptive’ and ‘normative’ perspectives, arguing instead that a satisfactory approach to law must be both at once. In contrast to promissory theories, contract as empowerment does not rest on or even ‘recommend the legal enforcement of the moral obligation to keep one’s promises’ …” (more)

Peter Benson, ‘The Demands of an Interpretive Theory of Contract – A Response to Robin Kar, Contract as Empowerment’, University of Chicago Law Review Online 83:190 (2016).

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