Private contracts decrease liberty by creating duties. Sometimes the results are noxious, such as contracts for slavery, non-compete clauses, unconscionable clauses and other surrenders of basic rights. Law regulates contracts by standardizing some, prohibiting others or by making them unenforceable.
- Adhesion Contracts (1 link)
- Almost all consumer contracts nowadays are adhesion contracts, standard forms which you can accept or not accept. No negotiation. They are used to remove rights of consumers to judicial remedies (through enforced arbitration and prohibition of class-action lawsuits) and entrap employees through non-compete and non-disclosure clauses. This is a case where restricting freedom of contract (to contract away rights) retains other freedoms for the consumer.
- Contract Feudalism [More...]
- Contract Feudalism describes the increasing power of employers over employee's lives outside the workplace.
- Non-compete Clauses In Contracts (3 links)
- Non-compete clauses in contracts are a restraint on trade that reduces the liberty of employees by requiring them to give away their rights to get a job. Recent research has also shown that these clauses are economically harmful. Liberals think such clauses should be unenforceable, just as slavery contracts should be unenforceable. Libertarians (a) often think you should be able to sell your rights or (b) don't care about workers.
Patriarchal control of women is found in at least three paradigmatic contemporary contracts: the marriage contract, the prostitution contract, and the contract for surrogate motherhood. Each of these contracts is concerned with men's control of women, or a particular man’s control of a particular woman generalized. According to the terms of the marriage contract, in most states in the U.S., a husband is accorded the right to sexual access, prohibiting the legal category of marital rape. Prostitution is a case in point of Pateman’s claim that modern patriarchy requires equal access by men to women, in particular sexual access, access to their bodies. And surrogate motherhood can be understood as more of the same, although in terms of access to women’s reproductive capacities. All these examples demonstrate that contract is the means by which women are dominated and controlled. Contract is not the path to freedom and equality. Rather, it is one means, perhaps the most fundamental means, by which patriarchy is upheld.
Celeste Friend, "Contemporary Critiques of Social Contract Theory"