- Instead of thinking about 'assent' to boiler-plate clauses, we can recognise that so far as concerns the specific, there is no assent at all. What has in fact been assented to, specifically, are the few dickered terms, and the broad type of the transaction, and but one thing more. That one thing more is a blanket assent (not a specific assent) to any not-unreasonable or indecent terms the seller may have on his form, which do not alter or eviscerate the reasonable meaning of the dickered terms. (cited as "Lewellyn. The Common Law Tradition: Deciding Appeals 370-71 (1960)")
The primary topic of the chapter I'm on is when contracts are (un)enforcable by various reasons - the right to private contract is considered a default and general foundation of modern society (by the authors), but several categories of exceptions are identified and some general concerns as to the changing foundations of the role of contract due to unnegotiated "form contracts" are mentioned.
I should nuance that statement above -- while the book may move forward under certain grounds on the structure of the public interest and how the law is to be applied/enforced, it is written so as to generally mention opinions on alternatives from various groups and people who suggest alternatves.
The idea of contracts as being both a private notion of honour and as a legal instituton is one which we might want to divorce - in some cases the law might not "get it right" and we might feel wronged in cases when a contract goes to court - the existence of grudges that exist in the private sphere that do not in the public/legal sphere (I imagine when credit institutions become involved, which are a kind of legal form of reputation, things get much more interesting) make action depending on them risky. There are some cases outlined in the law book where contracts have been signed where one side had no intent to hold the bargain and they brought suit at a later time to void the contract where they did so with good reason because of specific circumstance, but I wonder how many private grudges a system can afford before it grinds to a halt for reasons invisible to outsiders. Presumably this depends on the actors.
Reading law books makes me feel like I've "neglected the engineers" when reading about political theory - while I think Locke, Marx, Rawls, etc are more important for painting what is and what should be, by their perspectives, with broad strokes, if I had had a set of law books when younger (ideally sets on other legal traditions as well - for awhile I had my eye on Mary Ann Glendon's book on comparitive legal traditions before I found that she's very conservative and has strong ties to the Vatican) I probably would've moved a different path and never gone through some periods...
Edit: Guess I decided to post this part after all.. Recently had a conversation with an Orthodox friend who was bothered by another Orthodox guy "being seen" with a girl he's not involved with (there's more nuance, but that's unimportant). In the sections of Orthodox society this person floats in, it's seen as improper to hang out with a gal one's unmarried to, as a guard against indecent behaviour and perhaps because it's improper in itself. I don't share this attitude, obviously because I'm not orthodox (or religious), and not by analogy, partly because my sexuality would make it ridiculous, partly because I think the lesser socialisation created by gender segregation is unfortunate enough that the costs of lesser guards against inappropriate behaviour are worth paying, and partly because I think that a great way to start relationships is to hang out socially a few times first. The third point, I understand, doesn't necessarily fit well with the perspectives on dating some portions of the Orthodox community (including at least the Yeshiva-centric and the Hardeim) take. I think dating, both casual and not, are worthwhile, and both semi-casual sex (in the context of a relationship) and casual sex should be considered legitimate - the latter may be unwise depending on emotional context, but lack of sexual/emotional intimacy may be equally unwise and these need to be considered together. "Saving oneself for marriage" is as wrongheaded, I think, as deciding not to enjoy life in other ways (e.g. food, art, music). That said, for those of us who are aimed at monogamy (as I am, but not everyone I've known is), there are boundaries that many of us value in our relations which both help us feel secure and help preserve our relationship with our partner (be they long-term or not). My conversation with him got me thinking about precisely what those boundaries are from my perspective as well as those of people I know. I believe males and females who are coupled should be free to have friendships with both genders outside of their relationship, and the existence of the relationship should create obligations primarily to avoid acts and situations that should be construed as pre-dating/dating/relationship-type, in order to provide reasonable actual and emotional security of the relationship. Casual hanging out and going to restaurants (provided the atmosphere isn't one of those super romantic ones) seem fine, as does playing sport. Some types of social interaction, like going as a pair to opera, dance, or some other events seem a bit more iffy (as these are often "dating things"), and hanging out in the bedroom of someone of attracted gender, extended periods alone with them, etc, might be unacceptable. Still, it's interesting how arbitrary some of these things seem - people from different cultures seem to have various views either much less or much more open than mine.
Exhausted. Everything else is left as an exercise for the reader. That's all.