Changing Your Mind: The Law of Regretted Decisions

Overview

When does the law permit you to change your mind and reverse a decision you have made? In this masterful book, one of the foremost authorities on American contract law considers the general principles and legal rules that bear on this question. Drawing on many fields—contracts, torts, property, trusts, wills, agency, and even family law and procedure—E. Allan Farnsworth identifies and discusses six such principles.

Using real legal cases as well as an array of nonlegal sources ...

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Overview

When does the law permit you to change your mind and reverse a decision you have made? In this masterful book, one of the foremost authorities on American contract law considers the general principles and legal rules that bear on this question. Drawing on many fields—contracts, torts, property, trusts, wills, agency, and even family law and procedure—E. Allan Farnsworth identifies and discusses six such principles.

Using real legal cases as well as an array of nonlegal sources ranging from Rousseau and Martin Luther to Shirley MacLaine and Willie Nelson, Farnsworth illustrates the importance of the principles that govern the irrevocability of a commitment (as by a promise) and the irreversibility of a relinquishment (as by a gift) or preclusion (as by prescription). He discusses deficiencies in the law—such as the preoccupation with the reliance principle, the neglect of other principles, the propensity to find promise, and the tendency toward legal paternalism—and offers suggestions to eliminate anomalies, correct shortcomings, and further the rationalization of the legal concepts that pertain to regretted decisions.

About the Author:
E. Allan Farnsworth is Alfred McCormack Professor of Law at Columbia University. He was Reporter for the Restatement (Second) of Contracts and is the author of the three-volume treatise Farnsworth on Contracts and coauthor of Cases and Materials on Contracts.

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Editorial Reviews

Dennis Patterson
Professor Farnsworth's book is immensely interesting. . . . The conventional academic ear is deaf to the music of doctrine. Farnsworth avidly hears it, reminding us that the law is an intellectually demanding subject on its own terms. It is instructive and inspiring to see such a mind at work.
—( Books on Law)
Library Journal
[Farnsworth] does a good job of explaining the meaning of consideration in contracts, the glue that makes contracts enforceable. . . An intellectually challenging work that does justice to its topic.
R. Heinman
This . . . book by one of the nation's leading scholars on contract law is an exceptionally fine exposition of the principles governing contractual commitment. In clear and simple prose Farnsworth leads the reader through those doctrines that come into play when a party to a contract has second thoughts. . . . Accompanied by useful notes and a comprehensive index, this work belongs in every college library containing a legal collection.
—( Choice)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300086973
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Prologue 1
Part I. Commitments
Chapter 1. Wanting to Make a Commitment 9
Chapter 2. Regretting Being Committed 18
Chapter 3. How a Promise Expresses Commitment 28
Chapter 4. Why a Promise Should Commit 36
Chapter 5. When a Promise Does Commit 43
Chapter 6. A Surrogate for an Enigma 55
Chapter 7. Wanting to Make a Commitment (Reprise) 66
Chapter 8. Enforceable Promises to Make Gifts 75
Chapter 9. Commitment Without Promise 89
Chapter 10. The Reach of a Commitment 99
Chapter 11. The Strength of a Commitment 109
Interlude 120
Part II. Relinquishments and Preclusions
Chapter 12. Relinquishment by Performance 127
Chapter 13. Relinquishment by Gift 132
Chapter 14. What Can Be Given 143
Chapter 15. Relinquishment by Renunciation 148
Chapter 16. Relinquishment by Waiver 154
Chapter 17. Preclusion by Equitable Estoppel and Laches 163
Chapter 18. Preclusion by Rejection 174
Chapter 19. Preclusion by Election 181
Chapter 20. Preclusion by Prescription 193
Epilogue 202
Notes 207
Index 261
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