Contracts and Markets: A Very Short Essay Without Footnotes

17 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2011

Date Written: June 7, 2011


Contract law is the quintessential law of a market economy. Strangely enough, however, the idea of markets plays a relatively minor role in contemporary contract law theory. This essay suggests that the purpose of contract law is to sustain markets as a social institution and shows how such a focus on markets qua markets might illuminate discussions of the law of contracts. This essay is only a sketch of an argument. I have kept it deliberately short (16 pages) and free of scholarly apparatus (no footnotes) in order to facilitate reading and feedback.

Keywords: markets, promise, contract, liberalism, jurisprudence

Suggested Citation

Oman, Nathan B., Contracts and Markets: A Very Short Essay Without Footnotes (June 7, 2011). William & Mary Law School Research Paper No. 09-100, Available at SSRN: or

Nathan B. Oman (Contact Author)

William & Mary Law School ( email )

South Henry Street
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States


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