Madeleine Plasencia, ‘No Right to Lie, Cheat or Steal: Public Good v. Private Order’

Abstract:
In the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle takes up the task of examining the meaning of “equity and what is equitable — about how equity is related to justice, and what is equitable to what is just”. In this Article, Professor Plasencia takes up Aristotle’s account of the completing role of equity as a lens through which to examine the concepts that inform the legal repudiation of fraud and deceit in three cases at the intersection of torts and contracts. The three cases — though taken from the different substantive areas of marital relations, business mergers, and real estate transactions — are shown in this Article to occupy a common field of meaning in which law repeatedly has been called upon to deal with the injuries caused by fraud and deception. Across different states, different countries, indeed even different centuries, these three cases show how law has chosen to take such injuries as a serious challenge both to do justice between the parties and to prioritize the public good over the inequities of private order. The author argues that excavating the understandings that inform the legal repudiation of fraud and deceit is a timely and pressing project precisely because America appears, at this time, to be struggling under the burden of an increasingly pervasive tolerance for lies and deception in our private and public affairs. This apparent tolerance is evident in the contours of the Supreme Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence and further exacerbated by the pervasive circulation of what the philosopher Harry G Frankfurt has aptly called “bullshit” …

Plasencia, Madeleine M, No Right to Lie, Cheat or Steal: Public Good v. Private Order (May 14, 2014). University of Miami Law Review, Vol. 68:677, 2014.

First posted 2014-10-16 06:24:00

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