This Article claims that for Kant a contractual obligation generates a universal right, meaning a right against everyone. Accordingly, a right to performance of a contract is more similar to a right in rem than to a right in personam, and failing to perform a contract is more similar to theft than to moral failure to do as promised. Part I shows that for Kant accepting a promise means taking possession of the promisor's choice to commit an act in the future. Part II explains why it is possible to acquire someone else's choice and how one does so in fact. Part III considers why the two parties' bilateral will can legislate so that everyone recognizes the contractual claims it generates and thus why a court will enforce these claims in the civil social order. The Closing Comments explain why Kant says that the duty to keep one's promise is a categorical imperative for which any further proof is impossible—indeed as impossible as it would be to prove that three lines are needed to construct a triangle. Our conclusion is that seeing contractual claims as Kant does resolves most of the modern debates over a grand unified theory of contract.
B. S. Byrd & Joanchim Hruschka,
Kant on "Why Must I Keep My Promise?",
Chi.-Kent L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cklawreview/vol81/iss1/5