Pluralism and Perfectionism in Private Law

By: Hanoch Dagan

Many private law scholars strive to divine broad, unified normative theories of property, contracts, torts, and restitution (or, at times, even of private law as a whole). These monist accounts suggest that one regulative principle guides the various doctrines of these complex legal fields or that, even if more than one value shapes a given field, there is one particular balance of such values that guides the entire terrain. Notwithstanding the intuitive appeal of such structural monism, this Essay calls for a pluralist turn in private law theory and argues that a structurally pluralist and moderately perfectionist understanding provides a better account of private law generally and of property law more particularly. The multiplicity and complexity implied in such an understanding are also normatively valuable for liberal private law and should facilitate a variety of social spheres embodying different modes of valuation.

 

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