On the Fiction of the Retroaction of the Condition in Contracts

Philosophia Scientae 20:167-183 (2016)

Giuliano Bacigalupo
Université Charles-de-Gaulle - Lille 3 (PhD)
In this paper, I focus on the fiction of the retroaction of the condition in contracts, a very old tool of law which may be traced back to Roman antiquity. In the first part, I introduce the notion of a contract with a suspensive condition, i.e. a contract whose efficacy is subordinated to a future uncertain event. As will be addressed in the second part, this kind of contracts is often linked to the fiction of the retroaction of the condition (e.g. the French Code Civile 1179 and the Italian Codice Civile 1360): When the condition of the contract is fulfilled we should do as if the condition was fulfilled at the very time of the stipulation of the contract. In the third part, I turn to an attempt by the young Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz to rationalize this fiction: Although – as every fiction – false, the retroaction of the condition allows us to reach true conclusions with respect to a deterministic metaphysics. Eventually, after having raised some objections to the Leibnizian account, I develop an alternative rationalization of the fiction: The fiction does indeed lead us to true conclusions because the same conclusions may be reached by relying on an equity-principle or, alternatively, on a merely possible yet expedient law.
Keywords Retroactivity  Law  Leibniz  Fiction  Conservativity
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DOI 10.4000/philosophiascientiae.1162
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References found in this work BETA

In Defense of Imperative Inference.Peter B. M. Vranas - 2010 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 39 (1):59 - 71.
La Logique au Service du Droit: L’Analyse de la Signification du Terme “Incertain” Dans la Définition de la Condition Suspensive du Droit Civil Français.Sébastien Magnier - 2015 - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 28 (3):647-660.

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