Obligations: (Local) Politics or (Universal) Reason?

11 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2014

Date Written: July 17, 2014


Obligations is both a local institution, influenced by politics, and a universal institution, influenced by reason. It is a distraction to ask which vision should be allowed to predominate: neither truth should be allowed to obscure the other. The real question is how best to accommodate both. This paper approaches the question by comparing two very different descriptions of private law: Ernest Weinrib’s "The Idea of Private Law" (a universal description not expressly tied to any legal system, beyond that it is based on the common law) and Merkin and Steele’s "Insurance and the Law of Obligations" (which is explicitly tied to the legal system of England/Wales). While there are considerable differences between the two (and I imagine that neither approach seems to value the other very much) there are also some surprising similarities between them, raising questions as to the proper perspective from which to describe private law.

Keywords: corrective justice, contract law, tort, insurance, liability insurance, Ernest Weinrib, negligence, subrogation

JEL Classification: K12, K13

Suggested Citation

Hedley, Steve, Obligations: (Local) Politics or (Universal) Reason? (July 17, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2493641 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2493641

Steve Hedley (Contact Author)

University College Cork ( email )


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