A continuing issue of contract law is what purported contracts should be legally enforced. This article considers what principles rational persons would want courts to use in enforcing commitments in a society in which they expected to live. By reviewing the promise, economic value, and reasonable expectations approaches, the principles of freedom of transfer, enforceable commitments, and collective good are developed. Then, less general principles of consideration, past benefits, reliance, gratuitous commitments, and contract modification are presented. These latter principles specify (...) the more general principle of legally enforceable commitments. The resulting set of principles provide the basic outlines of legally enforceable commitments that would be acceptable to rational persons living in a contemporary, industrialized Western common-law society. (shrink)
This paper explores analyzing criminal responsibility from the Humean position that blame is for character traits. If untoward acts indicate undesirable character traits, then the agent is blameworthy; if they do not, then the actor is not blameworthy — he has an excuse. A distinctive feature of this approach is that that voluntariness of acts is irrelevant to determining blameworthiness.This analysis is then applied to a variety of issues in criminal law. Mens supports inferences to character traits, and the Humean (...) approach provides a reason for rejeting strict criminal liability. The Humean approach also helps resolve a number of issues about attempts, such as punishment for impossible attempts and the defense of abandonment. It also supports the broad outlines of the defense of mistake and provides a third alternative in the Wooton-Hart debate over punishment and treatment. (shrink)
An ideal rule-Utilitarian theory is presented which incorporates some of the advantages of those based on accepted rules. The theory attempts to maximize welfare for a society of imperfect men. First an ideal moral code is explicated. Second a principle of a practical moral code is explicated which in effect prohibits violating rules of an ideal moral code except when general conformity to an ideal rule would have bad consequences.