Paternalism, Unconscionability Doctrine, and Accommodation

Philosophy of Law, (edited by Joel Feinberg and Jules Coleman, Wadsworth/Thompson Learning, 2003, 2007)

29 Philosophy & Public Affairs 205-51 (2000)

UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 15-42

47 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2015

See all articles by Seana Shiffrin

Seana Shiffrin

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Date Written: 2003

Abstract

The unconscionability doctrine in contract law enables a court to decline to enforce a contract whose terms are seriously one-sided, exploitative, or otherwise manifestly unfair. It is often criticized for being paternalist. The essay argues that the characterization of unconscionability doctrine as paternalist reflects common but misleading thought about paternalism and obscures more important issues about autonomy and social connection. The defense responds to another criticism: that unconscionability doctrine is an inappropriate, because economically inefficient, egalitarian tool. The final part discusses more interesting but neglected questions about the scope of accommodation necessary to support fully meaningful autonomous activity.

Keywords: contract law, inequitable contracts, paternalist doctrines and policies

Suggested Citation

Shiffrin, Seana, Paternalism, Unconscionability Doctrine, and Accommodation (2003). Philosophy of Law, (edited by Joel Feinberg and Jules Coleman, Wadsworth/Thompson Learning, 2003, 2007); 29 Philosophy & Public Affairs 205-51 (2000); UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 15-42. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2682745

Seana Shiffrin (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

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