Unequal Promises

27 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2010 Last revised: 7 Jan 2012

See all articles by Aditi Bagchi

Aditi Bagchi

Fordham University School of Law

Date Written: January 5, 2012


This essay explores the nature and implications of a type of inequality that is widespread but largely ignored. Promises deliver important ethical value, and commercial promises, because they are our most common experience of promise with strangers, are of special value. But not all commercial promises generate that value equally. This paper makes the following claims: (1) while some retail promises are promises either to deliver a good or service, or to pay some compensation, other retail promises are simple promises to deliver a good or service; (2) retail promises in high-end markets are more likely to have the simple form, while retail promises in low-end markets are more likely to be conditional; (3) conditional promises that create less certainty and less entitlement are inferior to simple promises to deliver a good or service; and (4) inequality in the quality of retail promise has implications for how members from different social backgrounds relate to others in their political and economic community.

Keywords: contract, promise, commercial promise, conditional promise, inequality, take or pay, retail contract, consumer

Suggested Citation

Bagchi, Aditi, Unequal Promises (January 5, 2012). University of Pittsburgh Law Review, Vol. 72, p. 467, 2011; U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 10-35. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1709393

Aditi Bagchi (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

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