This book displays the underlying structure of a complex body of law and integrates that structure with moral principles.
Charles Fried grounds the basic legal institution of contract in the morality of promise, under which individuals incur obligations freely by invoking each other's trust. Contract law and the promise principle are contrasted to the socially imposed obligations of compensation, restitution, and sharing, which determine the other basic institutions of private law, and which come into control where the parties have not succeeded in invoking the promise principleas in the case of mistake or impossibility. Professor Fried illustrates his argument with a wide range of concrete examples; and opposing views of contract law are discussed in detail, particularly in connection with the doctrines of good faith, duress, and unconscionability.
For law students and legal scholars, Contract asPromise offers a coherent survey of an important legal concept. For philosophers and social scientists, the book is a unique demonstration of the practical and detailed entailments of moral theory.
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About the Author
Charles Fried is Beneficial Professor of Law, Harvard University.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: The Life of Contract
2. Contract as Promise
The Moral Obligation of Promise
What a Promise is Worth
Remedies in and around the Promise
4. Answering a Promise: Offer and Acceptance
Promises and Vows
Acceptance and the Law of Third-Party Beneficiaries
The Simple Circuitry of Offer and Acceptance
Rejections, Counteroffers, Contracts at a Distance, Crossed Offers
Reliance on an Offer
Mistake, Frustration, and Impossibility
Letting the Loss Lie Where It Falls
Parallels with General Legal Theory: An Excursion
Filling the Gaps
6. Good Faith
"Honesty in Fact"
Good Faith in Performance
7. Duress and Unconscionability
Coercion and Rights
Unconscionability, Economic Duress, and Social Justice
8. The Importance of Being Right
You Can Always Get Your Money Back
Waivers, Forfeitures, Repudiations
What People are Saying About This
Charles Fried has written a very sensible, readable, and important book. To have someone argue for the importance of moral reasoning in contracts, or for that matter any common law subject, is refreshing. To have it done well is a real treat.