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University of Michigan Law School

2012

Comparative and Foreign Law

Contractualism

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Contractualism In The Law Of Treaties, Omar M. Dajani Sep 2012

Contractualism In The Law Of Treaties, Omar M. Dajani

Michigan Journal of International Law

When Henry Sumner Maine famously observed that "the movement of the progressive societies has hitherto been a movement from Status to Contract," he was invoking contract not as a device for binding parties to their commitments but, rather, as a metaphor for freedom. That metaphor lies at the heart of what legal scholars have come to call contractualism (or, sometimes, contractarianism)-the idea that people should be free to decide with whom, for what, and on which terms they enter agreements and that the law should minimize the constraints it places on these decisions. It is a proposition rooted in ...