Lying and Cheating, or Self-Help and Civil Disobedience?

36 Pages Posted: 21 May 2019

See all articles by Aditi Bagchi

Aditi Bagchi

Fordham University School of Law

Date Written: May 3, 2019


May poor sellers lie to rich buyers? This Article argues that, under limited circumstances, sellers may indeed have a license to lie about their goods. Where sellers are losers under unjust background institutions and they reasonably believe that buyers have more than they would under just institutions, lies that result in de minimum transfers can be regarded as a kind of self-help. More generally, what we owe each other in our interpersonal interactions depends on the institutional backdrop. Consumer contract law, including its enforcement regimes, should recognize the social and political contingency of sellers’ obligations to buyers. In other contexts, too, we must adjust what we demand of one another to take into account existing justice deficits.

Keywords: distributive justice, lying, inequality, contract, misrepresentation, fraud, deception, consumer sales, noncompliance theory, self-help, civil disobedience, cheating

Suggested Citation

Bagchi, Aditi, Lying and Cheating, or Self-Help and Civil Disobedience? (May 3, 2019). Brooklyn Law Review, Forthcoming 2020. Available at SSRN:

Aditi Bagchi (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

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

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