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Calculating PromisesThe Emergence of Modern American Contract Doctrine$
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Roy Kreitner

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780804753982

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804753982.001.0001

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Acquisitive Individuality Versus Communal Efficiency

Acquisitive Individuality Versus Communal Efficiency

Conflicting Policies and the Love-Hate Relationship with Risk

(p.147) Eight Acquisitive Individuality Versus Communal Efficiency
Calculating Promises
Stanford University Press

The good faith standard has failed to resolve the debate on how to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate contracts, exposing a gap in the law. This gap is filled with a conflict among policies, rather than a technical legal test. On the one hand, the policy of limiting wagers makes gambling an unattractive vocation. The limitation of the capacity to wager is positioned within a wider goal of fostering acquisitive individuality. On the other hand, this goal stands in contrast to an ideal of communal efficiency. Reducing uncertainty to measurable risk is based on the principles of consolidation and specialization, each of which is associated with specific economic institutions or practices. Insurance, including life insurance, is the best-known device for dealing with uncertainty through consolidation, while speculation is the most important instrument in modern economic society for the specialization of uncertainty. In the early twentieth century, the development of contract law has been described on the basis of coming to terms with uncertainty.

Keywords:   acquisitive individuality, communal efficiency, risk, uncertainty, insurance, contract law, consolidation, specialization, speculation

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