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Contracts

Faculty Publications

2005

St. John's University School of Law

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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 Williston's scholarship—to contemporary …