“One of the most important contributions to the field of contract theory—if not the most important—in the past 25 years.” —Stephen A. Smith, McGill University
Can we account for contract law on a moral basis that is acceptable from the standpoint of liberal justice? To answer this question, Peter Benson develops a theory of contract that is completely independent of—and arguably superior to—long-dominant views, which take contract law to be justified on the basis of economics or promissory morality. Through a detailed analysis of contract principles and doctrines, Benson brings out the specific normative conception underpinning the whole of contract law. Contract, he argues, is best explained as a transfer of rights, which is complete at the moment of agreement and is governed by a definite conception of justice—justice in transactions.
Benson’s analysis provides what John Rawls called a public basis of justification, which is as essential to the liberal legitimacy of contract as to any other form of coercive law. The argument of Justice in Transactions is expressly complementary to Rawls’s, presenting an original justification designed specifically for transactions, as distinguished from the background institutions to which Rawls’s own theory applies. The result is a field-defining work offering a comprehensive theory of contract law. Benson shows that contract law is both justified in its own right and fully congruent with other domains—moral, economic, and political—of liberal society.
Professor Benson is one of the world’s leading contract theorists. This book is the culmination of his research, writing, and reflections on contract law spanning over three decades. Ambitious, innovative, rigorously argued, carefully researched, and clearly written, this work is, in my view, one of the most important contributions to the field of contract theory—if not the most important contribution—in the past 25 years.
Peter Benson's Justice in Transactions is a remarkable—indeed, literally extraordinary—and highly significant book. It takes on basic questions of social organization in a fundamentally new way and develops its own theory of them from first principles. This book will command study from all serious scholars.
Probably one of the most important and unified works ever written in contract theory. The book’s main effort is an attempt at organically revisiting contract theory based on a liberal conception of justice. In pursuing this effort, the book provides a coherent rationale for all the major doctrines of principles in contracts. This is a necessary exercise (one that clearly draws on years of research and engagement) to show that a liberal conception of justice can serve as an organizational idea for the law of contracts that is fully internal to its system of principles.
[An] ambitious book…Benson is one of the most thoughtful, sophisticated, and provocative contract theorists of our time, and Justice in Transactions is likely to become the definite modern statement of the venerable transfer theory of contract.
- 624 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
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