Lying and Cheating, or Self-Help and Civil Disobedience?
36 Pages Posted: 21 May 2019
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
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