Law & Gratuitous Promises

55 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2006

See all articles by Robert A. Prentice

Robert A. Prentice

University of Texas at Austin - McCombs School of Business

Date Written: 2006


A foundational question in contract law is why certain promises are enforced and others are not. For many years scholars have attempted to justify the common law's use of the consideration doctrine to draw this line. Recently, law & economics scholars have turned their attention to this issue, with less than fully satisfying results. This article critically examines the rationales provided by both traditional scholars and law & economics scholars and then contributes an analysis regarding whether gratuitous promises should be enforced that applies the principles of behavioral law & economics.

Keywords: law, promises, economics

JEL Classification: K10, K40

Suggested Citation

Prentice, Robert A., Law & Gratuitous Promises (2006). U of Texas Law, Law and Econ Research Paper No. 74, Available at SSRN: or

Robert A. Prentice (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin - McCombs School of Business ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States

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