Analysis Of Thomas E. Davitt 's The Elements Of Law

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There are many ideas about the correct basis for contractual obligation. They include promise, consideration, and cause. All jurisdictions follow at least one. In Thomas E. Davitt’s The Elements of Law, the author articulates a very credible argument for the basis for contractual obligation being one of those named above. Davitt simplifies the arguments for all of these and names one correct basis: the promise itself. Generally Thomas E. Davitt, S.J., The Elements of Law, 272 (1959). This paper will argue in favor of Davitt’s writings. The basis for contractual obligation is the promise itself. In order to effectively argue in favor of one basis over the possible others, it is necessary to discuss and rule out the others. A contract in its essence according to Davitt is “a union of two or more persons, originating in their mutual promises enforceable in law, for the reordering of their relations of title, duty and claim regarding something to be done or not to be done.” Id. at 273. The tricky part concerns what a mutual promise enforceable in law entails. As stated above, there are many difference schools of thought about what fills in the gaps of promises and what is enforceable by law. Mutual assent and consideration go together so this paper will argue against them together. Mutual assent is the idea that all the parties in a contract know what they are contracting to and agree to it. As defined in Charles S. Knapp, Nathan M. Crystal, and Harry G. Prince’s Problems in
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