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Giving, Trading, Thieving and Trusting: How and Why Gifts Become Exchanges and Vice Versa

By Carol M. Rose

Abstract

Does anybody really ever give anything away? Well, yes and no. Consider our sayings about gifts—what is the most famous one? I think it must be, \u22Don\u27t look a gift horse in the mouth.\u22 This old chestnut suggests that if you get something for nothing, you ought to just be satisfied. The presumption is that, yes, people do give things away sometimes, just out of niceness, and that the appropriate reaction is gratitude and not nitpicking. But this adage tells us something else too—that some people do look in the gift horse\u27s mouth, presumably because they think (sometimes rightly) that it really may be a pretty decrepit old nag. In short, yes, Don Donor might sometimes make a free gift out of just plain niceness, but there is no denying Doris Donee\u27s suspicion that Don is really just trying to get rid of a piece of junk, and get (unjustified) credit for doing so

Topics: Law
Publisher: Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository
Year: 1992
OAI identifier: oai:digitalcommons.law.yale.edu:fss_papers-2816
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