Paternalism, Unconscionability Doctrine, and Accommodation

Philosophy and Public Affairs 29 (3):205-250 (2000)
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The unconscionability doctrine in contract law enables a court to decline to enforce a contract whose terms are seriously one-sided, exploitative, or otherwise manifestly unfair. It is often criticized for being paternalist. The essay argues that the characterization of unconscionability doctrine as paternalist reflects common but misleading thought about paternalism and obscures more important issues about autonomy and social connection. The defense responds to another criticism: that unconscionability doctrine is an inappropriate, because economically inefficient, egalitarian tool. The final part discusses more interesting but neglected questions about the scope of accommodation necessary to support fully meaningful autonomous activity.



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Seana Shiffrin
University of California, Los Angeles

References found in this work

What is equality? Part 2: Equality of resources.Ronald Dworkin - 1981 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 (4):283 - 345.
Equality and equal opportunity for welfare.Richard J. Arneson - 1989 - Philosophical Studies 56 (1):77 - 93.
Mill versus paternalism.Richard J. Arneson - 1980 - Ethics 90 (4):470-489.

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