Golden Gate University Law Review


Hila Keren


Focusing on the interaction of law and emotions, this Article unfolds in three parts. Part I illuminates the connection between the affective background of donative promises and their modem unenforceability. It hypothesizes that rejecting promises that are not supported by consideration can be seen as an effort to distance law from any association with irrational decisionmaking and to disassociate it from "emotional" spheres. Part II seeks to correct the erroneous way affective giving has been perceived by law in the gifts context. The law must carefully analyze each relevant emotion concretely and separately, rather than treating emotion as an undifferentiated aggregate. This part is dedicated to an interdisciplinary investigation of the leading emotions that play a role in the context of gifts and altruistic behavior: empathy and gratitude. Part III integrates the knowledge gained in Part II with the normative question of the desirable rule for donative promises. It suggests that given the special function of empathy and gratitude in the gift setting, the main justifications for the enforcement of bargained-for promises support the enforcement of donative promises. Part III concludes with the suggestion that enforcement should not be dependent on the motives that led to promising and instead would depend on the intention of promisors to be legally bound by their promises. It is suggested that the freedom to make legally binding promises would be afforded to players in all spheres of life and less biased toward profit-seeking activities. The Article ends with a concrete suggestion to move from total refusal to enforce donative promises to a cautious willingness to enforce them "consciously": only in cases of provable intention to create legally binding promises.

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