Working Paper No. 01-18:
Bankruptcy Law as Social Legislation

Author(s):

Todd Zywicki

Date Posted: 2001

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Abstract:

Bankruptcy law is generally thought of as being purely economic in nature. But personal bankruptcy is also a form of post-contractual opportunism that reflects a moral decision to allow an individual to repudiate a promise of repayment. Thus, the bankruptcy decision is fraught with moral significance regarding promise-keeping and reciprocity. Reciprocity, it is argued, is the cornerstone of a free economy, healthy civil society, and democratic governance. Rampant personal bankruptcy, it is argued, frays these bonds of reciprocity that are necessary for a free, responsible, and self-governing society.