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TIM KAYE
of practice because traditional contract law was doing a better job of deal-
ing with relational issues than had previously been supposed
.
3
Latterly,
however, there have been at least two attempts to marry the ends of this
spectrum, involving construction of the very sort of relational contract the-
ory which had previously been abandoned as futile, while arguing at the
same time that the law itself is already performing these tasks
.
4
Sociology and Law
It might be said that this attempt to have it both ways is little more than a
marriage of convenience, which obscures at least as much as it reveals. If
the law of contracts has, after all, been fulfilling the “non-contractual” de-
mands of business relationships, then it is tempting to wonder what all the
fuss has been about. Arguably, all it leaves of the past forty years of debate
over relational contracts is the impression that business relationships are
viewed differently — or, perhaps, rendered meaningful but with a different
vocabulary — by lawyers (whose focus is contract
law
) as compared to
sociologists, who talk of the
functions or goals
of a relationship
.
5
3 Melvin Eisenberg,
Why There is No Law of Relational Contracts
,
.
4 I
AN
M
ACNEIL
,
T
HE
R
T
C
(2001); Richard Austen-
Baker,
Comprehensive Contract Theory: A Four-Norm Model of Contract Relations
,
.
5 This would seem to be a good example of legal autopoiesis, on which see Michael
King,
The “Truth” about Autopoiesis
,
,
and Neil T. Lyons,
Autopoiesis: Evolution, Assimilation, and Causation of Normative Closure
, in
L
AW
,
J
,
AND
M
: E
A
L
P
(Tim
Kaye ed., 2011).
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