The Distributive Understanding of Contract Law: Kronman on Contract Law and Distributive Justice
This chapter examines Anthony Kronman’s idea that the voluntary basis of contracts should be conceived wholly in terms of a conception of distributive justice. For Kronman, voluntariness cannot be understood simply in terms of the idea of individual freedom; for him, in order to determine whether one party voluntarily consented to a particular contract or not, we have to determine whether the other party took advantage of her in an impermissible way. I argue that this way of looking at private transactions is problematic. My claim is that Kronman’s focus on distributive justice inhibits him from explaining the private nature of contractual transactions, which is precisely what he claims to be addressing. In particular, I argue that Kronman’s distributive approach cannot explain neither the privity rule, which is a central doctrine in contract law, nor the role of consent.