Richard R. W. Brooks
Spring 2019

The overarching aim of the Contract Theory and Law Colloquium is to bring together scholars from the humanities, law and the social sciences to explore ideas of contracts, broadly conceived, from specific forms of legally enforceable private exchange to more expansive notions of social contracts. While always seeking to maintain this broad perspective, in each term the Colloquium will be organized around a specific topic or question of inquiry. For spring 2019 the Colloquium’s focus is on the written contract, asking: What is gained or lost when contracts, again broadly understood, are rendered in writing? To structure the inquiry, the Colloquium will concentrate on four discrete areas of contractual thought—doctrines, constitutions, codes and covenants (or legally enforceable promises)—each of which will be a focus of a monthly conversation between two speakers, invited to share their thoughts and scholarship on the importance of writings in one of these areas, beginning with doctrine and concluding with covenants.

As the Colloquium’s format is a somewhat unconventional, a few words about its structure may be warranted. For each individual session, invited speakers are to submit a 15 to 30-page writing (which may be a working paper or something previously published by the speaker or someone else).  The objective here is to give the audience some background on the speaker’s thought and likely comments on the topic, rather than limiting discussion to any specific document. Submitted documents will be posted at least a week in advance and participants will be presumed to have read them. At the beginning of each meeting the session coordinator will summarize and relate the submitted documents for the audience and then lead off with questions and open up a discussion between the speakers.  Following that exchange, the session coordinator will invite questions and comments from the audience. 

Monthly Seminars


Doctrines, Jan. 31

  • Moshe Halbertal, Prof. Law and Philosophy, Hebrew Univ. & NYU
  • Brinkley Messick, Prof. of Anthropology, Columbia Univ.

Constitutions, Feb. 28

  • David Dyzenhaus, Prof. of Law and Philosophy, Univ. of Toronto
  • Tom Ginsburg, Prof. Law and Political Science, Univ. of Chicago

Codes, Mar. 28

  • Robert Scott, Prof. of Law, Columbia Univ.
  • Genevieve Helleringer, Prof. of Law, Oxford and ESSEC

Covenants (enforceable promises), Apr. 25

  • TBA