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The Dignity of CommerceMarkets and the Moral Foundations of Contract Law$
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Nathan B. Oman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226415529

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226415666.001.0001

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Shakespeare and the Predicament of Contract Theory

(p.1) Chapter One Introduction
The Dignity of Commerce

Nathan B. Oman

University of Chicago Press

In A Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare offers a theory of contract centered on the requirements of a commercial society. Slade's Case, which was decided as the play debuted, marks the beginning of the common law of contracts and shows a similar connection between markets and contract law. In modern contract law theory, however, markets play at best a peripheral role. Contracts are justified on grounds of personal autonomy or social welfare, but the appreciation for the moral complexities of the market seen in A Merchant of Venice are absent. This book seeks to once again place the moral status of the market at the center of contract law theory.

Keywords:   William Shakespeare, Slade's case, markets, contract law theory

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