The Dignity of Commerce

The Dignity of Commerce: Markets and the Moral Foundations of Contract Law (Chicago UP, 2016) offers a normative theory of contract law rooted in the so-called doux commerce tradition.  Stated in a nutshell, the book argues that markets are morally desireable for reasons other than simply the efficient allocation of resources and contract law should be structured to support such markets.  Placing the moral status of markets at the heart of our normative debates about contract law and its limits provides insights that are lost in the contemporary clash between efficiency theorists and autonomy theorists that dominates current legal debates about contract.  The movie trailer for the book can be found here.

“This book is like my dream house built in a neighborhood that I wouldn’t be caught dead in.”

MARCUS COLE, Stanford University Law School

“Oman is a careful analyst and commentator who offers novel and interesting insights into contract law and contract law theory.  He has grounded his argument in an impressively wide range of legal and nonlegal scholarship and case law, and his argument is consistently clear and persuasive.”

BRIAN BIX, University of Minnesota Law School

“Both markets and contract law are central institutions of modern liberal societies through which citizens come to see themselves as free and equal persons and acquire the virtues that fit them for participation as such.  Although we standardly assumes the importance of this relation between markets and contract law, and the economic analysis of this relation is now well-developed, it is striking that contemporary contract theories have not explored the moral status of markets and the way they may fit with and serve the ends, both noneconomic as well as economic, of contract law.  In The Dignity of Commerce, Oman meets this important need by providing a systematic, thought-provoking, and clearly written account of markets and contract law that presents their relation in a new and subtle light and through this illumines a wide range of doctrines and topics unique to contract law.”

PETER BENSON, University of Toronto Law School