This essay is a response to Professor Michelle E Boardman’s piece, 127 Harvard Law Review 1967 (2014), reviewing my book, Boilerplate: The Fine Print, Vanishing Rights, and the Rule of Law (Princeton 2013). I argue for the perhaps self-evident proposition that intellectual preconceptions (‘priors’) can skew one’s understanding of a text, and in particular, that ‘Chicago’ priors apparently make it difficult to parse critique. In this essay I describe ‘Chicago’ priors, then use examples to argue that these priors led Boardman not only to misinterpret the major thrust of Boilerplate but also to misunderstand many of its details. I suggest that these priors, which are common in contemporary American legal thought, distort and obscure central issues relating to contemporary contract theory and practice.
Radin, Margaret Jane, Of Priors and of Disconnects (May 28, 2014). Harvard Law Review Forum, Vol 127, p 259, 2014.