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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 October 2021

Theories of Contract Law

Theories of Contract Law

(p.9) Two Theories of Contract Law
Foundational Principles of Contract Law

Melvin A. Eisenberg

Oxford University Press

Theories of contract law fall into three basic categories: formalist, interpretive, and normative. Formalist theories proceed by first purporting to identify a core set of rules that are justified on the ground that they are self-evident axioms, and then purporting to derive the remaining rules by logical deduction from the axioms. Interpretive theories proceed by describing areas of contract law and then determining the social propositions that are to be found in the most fundamental doctrines in the area or that meet some standard of fit with and best justify or rationalize doctrine in the area. Under normative theories the content of contract law depends on the rules that are generated by properly weighted and reconciled policy, moral, and empirical propositions. Unlike the objectives of formalist and interpretive theories, the objective of normative theories is to formulate the best possible rules of contract law.

Keywords:   contract law, formalist theories, interpretive theories, normative theories, social propositions

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