The promise theory views the origin of contract in the making of a promise. This means that it views the creation of contracts as arising, in an important part, from the voluntary acts of promisors rather than from third parties like the State. In this regard, the theory facilitates the classical liberal value of freedom to contract. The promise theory also supports the notion that contracts should be interpreted according to the terms of the promise rather than by imposing terms on the parties. In this regard, the theory facilitates the classical liberal value of freedom from contract. These strengths of the promise theory are why the author credits Professor Farnsworth--one of the leading proponents of this theory of contract--with helping to keep contract alive. By promoting the promise theory so effectively, he has helped bolster both freedom from and freedom to contract.
Yet the promise theory is not without its difficulties, though these difficulties are complex and hard to explain concisely. With this caveat in mind, however, and at the risk of substantial oversimplification, the author attempts to summarize some of the problems that arise from adhering to a promise theory of contract.
77 Cornell L. Rev. 1022-1033 (1992)
Scholarly Commons Citation
Barnett, Randy E., "Some Problems With Contract as Promise" (1992). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. Paper 1262.