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November 16, 2017

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Al Brophy

I clearly need to read this book right away. Does Nate engage at all with the debate about the market and anti-slavery thought between David Davis, Thomas Bender, Thomas Haskell, and John Ashworth? Also, the link to your critique doesn't seem to be working right.

Kim Krawiec

Thanks so much for the heads up Al (you'd think I'd have learned to preview my links by now, but no). Should be fixed now.

As to your question, I do not believe that Nate addressed it, though I could be missing it (I just looked back through that chapter and didn't see it referenced). My own objection to that particular part of Nate's argument is the contention that slavery is an evil market (as opposed to an evil activity that would be abhorrent w/o regard to the presence or absence of market trading and supporting contracts). We discuss why we think distinctions like that matter in the paper.

I do think you'd find the book interesting, though. And perhaps a suitable launchpad for your own thoughts about the intersection of slavery, contracts, markets, and morality.

Al Brophy

I see your review essay interprets the market as positive because it facilitates transactions. This is refrshingly straight-forward. The Davis debate is a lmore elliptical. The question for Davis is why do capitalism never anti-slavery sentiments arise at the same time? Why is it that as capitalism grew, so did humanitarian sentiments. One theory is that the market generates humane sentiments in part because it brings people together. And it brings them together across big distances, so that someone buying new sugar in England might understand and appreciate the lives of those who produced the sugar in the West Indies. This reminds me of Emerson’s statements that trade has done many positive things, such as bringing down feudalism and that it will bring down slavery, but that many hardships will come along with it.

Kim Krawiec

Interesting. This is very consistent with Nate's views on the benefits of commerce and markets -- the forcing together (for self-interested purposes) of people outside of one's own immediate community can lead to positive effects stemming from that familiarity and interaction.

Kim Krawiec

To be clear, we don't contest that interpretation of the market's benefit. It's somewhat orthogonal to our thesis, though, which is whether the market theory of contract explains thorny issues of contract law that existing theories do not, and whether it provides guidance to courts interpreting future difficult claims.

Al Brophy

I think there's a lot to be said about the relationship between anti-slavery thought and the market. This is one of the richest/most exciting debates in intellectual history in recent years.

Kim Krawiec

You should write about this Al. I do not think that any of the reviews so far have touched on this specific issue and, even if they had, I'm sure that you would bring additional knowledge and insights to the table, given your expertise on this.

Enrique Guerra Pujol

Nate claims to be a friend of markets, but he is much closer to the Michael Sandel end of the anti-market spectrum; here is my review "The dignity of commerce": http://newramblerreview.com/book-reviews/law/exit-voice-and-boilerplate

Al Brophy

I'd like to engage that literature, though my expertise is really more on the proslavery side of things.

Enrique Guerra-Pujol

I tried posting my review of Nate's book here, but to no avail. In any case, I was not much impressed by the slavery argument in his book (Whig history). Check out my review in The New Rambler.

Kim Krawiec

It almost certainly got caught in the spam filter. Ill dig it out when I get to a computer- and look forward to reading your review!

Sent from my iPhone

Enrique Guerra-Pujol

Thanks Kim. It's up now. Also, I love the title of Wenhao's and your review of Nate's book, which I just got around to reading. Although "The dignity of commerce" is a beautifully-written book and deserves to be read, along with such classics Fried's "Contract as promise," I agree that Nate's book is riddled with internal contradictions and lacks a coherent or overarching theory of morality. Although Nate decides to not pursue a theory of harm, I think one is needed if we are going to make any sense of contract law and the practice of promising generally.

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