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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

Williston As Conservative-Pragmatist, Mark L. Movsesian Jan 2007

Williston As Conservative-Pragmatist, Mark L. Movsesian

Faculty Publications

In her pathbreaking article, "Restatement and Reform: A New Perspective on the Origins of the American Law Institute, Professor N.E.H. Hull rejects the conventional wisdom about the conservative, even reactionary, character of the First Restatements. The truth, she argues, is more subtle. The Restatements, and the larger ALI project of which they were a part, reflect the "'progressive-pragmatic"' worldview of the law professors most responsible for their creation. These professors were reformers. They rejected the formalism of earlier generations; for them, law was not a conceptual system but a practical tool for promoting beneficial social goals. They tempered ...


Formalism In American Contract Law: Classical And Contemporary, Mark L. Movsesian Jan 2006

Formalism In American Contract Law: Classical And Contemporary, Mark L. Movsesian

Faculty Publications

It is a universally acknowledged truth that we live in a formalist era—at least when it comes to American contract law. Much more than the jurisprudence of a generation ago, today's cutting-edge work in American contract scholarship values the formalist virtues of bright-line rules, objective interpretation, and party autonomy. Policing bargains for substantive fairness seems more and more an outdated notion. Courts, it is thought, should refrain from interfering with market exchanges. Private arbitration has displaced courts in the context of many traditional contract disputes. Even adhesion contracts find their defenders, much to the chagrin of communitarian scholars ...


Rediscovering Williston, Mark L. Movsesian Jan 2005

Rediscovering Williston, Mark L. Movsesian

Faculty Publications

This Article is an intellectual history of classical contracts scholar Samuel Williston. Professor Movsesian argues that the conventional account of Williston's jurisprudence presents an incomplete and distorted picture. While much of Williston's work can strike a contemporary reader as arid and conceptual, there are strong elements of pragmatism as well. Williston insists that doctrine be justified in terms of real-world consequences, maintains that rules can have only presumptive force, and offers institutional explanations for judicial restraint. As a result, his scholarship shares more in common with today's new formalism than commonly supposed. Even the under-theorized quality of ...