Jeffrey Lipshaw, ‘Contract as Meaning: An Introduction to “Contract as Promise at 30″‘

This is an introductory essay to the volume of the Suffolk Law Review containing the papers from our symposium centered on Charles Fried’s iconic book, ‘Contract as Promise’ at 30: The Future of Contract Theory. My theme is the relation of theory to practice, particularly in contract law, and why a theoretical orientation, broadly speaking and whether or not so conceived by the practitioner herself, is fundamental to that practitioner making good judgments. Theorizing – imposing coherent and correspondent conceptual order on events in the real world – is not as unrelated to the ordinary work of lawyers (and others) as some critics of legal academy would suggest. I provide a summary of the papers, presentations, and commentary by the distinguished participating scholars, and consider how their work fits within the framework I describe. Finally, I consider the role of meaning in contract theory; in other words, how both descriptive and normative theory, whether directed to the legal institution of contract or to other phenomena, are all ways of making sense of the human condition, and thus an essential part of what practicing “lawyers-theorists” do every day.

Lipshaw, Jeffrey M., Contract as Meaning: An Introduction to ‘Contract as Promise at 30’ (July 5, 2011). Suffolk University Law Review, Forthcoming; Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 11-25.

First posted 2011-09-03 12:10:33

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