The Strategic Structure of Offer and Acceptance: Game Theory and the Law of Contract Formation

The purpose of this article is to promote a particular research program; namely, the use of game theory to analyze the law of contract formation. Although I will often simply speak of offer and acceptance in my discussion, I mean to refer to a broader set of issues than are commonly denoted by this doctrinal label. My program transcends the narrow issue of whether particular communications technically should be classified as offers and acceptances, and includes questions often analyzed under the rubrics of implication and interpretation. At its broadest, my argument addresses all legal rules that answer two types of questions: First, which objectively verifiable actions or subjectively experienced intentions suffice to conclude a bargain and form a contractual obligation? Second, how do these actions and intentions affect the substantive content of any contract formed?