Dismembered Goats and the Philosophy of Contract Law

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5 Responses

  1. Logan says:


    Your theory is very similar to that of the English School in International Relations theory (Check out Hedley Bull, “The Anarchical Society”). Basically, Bull says States consent to things like the WTO and UN because of their legalized (or socially accepted) means of retaliation. Of course, problems arise when a contract is broken but for whatever reason the court(s) decide not to enforce any legalized punitive action(s) (or in IR when China decides not to back UN sanctions against Iran making any punitive actions less effective).

    Overall, I thought the article was a good read (coming from the perspective of an IR academic with only two undergraduate courses relating to contract law). I also find it interesting that this theory hasn’t been applied to this field as of yet; given it’s importance in IR theory for several decades.

  2. Nancy says:

    I just read another paper on early forms of retaliation and dueling with a similar intro as yours – but it focuses on Evidence law, not Contracts. I love when authors remind us of the crazy origins of our modern system.

  3. Nancy says:

    Here’s a link to the paper I mentioned in case anyone is interested: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1553455

  4. Kaimi says:

    What a hack job — this really gets my goat.

  5. Rob Veal says:

    Without enforcement, what good is deterrence? Without deterrence, what good is the contract? Without the contract, of what value is the law itself?
    If we don’t take the blade to the one who has breached, we remove the purpose of the ritual. Without any purpose to the ritual, there is no foundation to the agreement. Without such foundations, the structure of the agreement begins to dissolve.