Document Type


Publication Date

June 2009


The assumption that contracts are largely impersonal, rational, voluntary agreements drawn up between self-interested individual agents is a convenient fiction, necessary for analysis using conventional economic methods. Papers prepared for a recent conference on ethics and international debt were shaped by just such an assumption. The adequacy of this approach is, however, challenged by evidence about who is affected by international debt, how contracts are actually made and followed, the behavior of actors in financial markets, and the motivations of scholars themselves. This essay uses insights from feminist and relational scholarship from several disciplines to analyze the reasons for this sort of habitual neglect of certain kinds of evidence within economics, and to point towards more adequate alternatives.


Link is to working paper version. The final version can be found at



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.