Signalling Intentions and Obliging Behavior Online: An Application of Semiotic and Legal Modeling in E-Commerce

Signalling Intentions and Obliging Behavior Online: An Application of Semiotic and Legal Modeling in E-Commerce

James Backhouse (London School of Economics, UK) and Edward K. Cheng (Harvard Law School, USA)
Copyright: © 2002 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-931777-08-7.ch005

Abstract

Electronic commerce has the potential to deliver goods and services to customers more quickly, cheaply, and conveniently than ever before. But before performance the obligations have to be created. This paper explores the semiotic and legal aspects of online contracts. It reviews speech act theory from philosophers such as Austin and Searle to explain how words and actions can create legal obligations. It then examines English contract law and its requirements to find an abstract basis upon which contract creation can be modeled. Using semiotics and law, the paper thereafter creates a model of the contract creation process and applies it to electronic commerce in intangible goods. Since electronic commerce is so pervasive and extends beyond any particular jurisdiction, the need is destined to increase for high-level abstraction and for a model for comparison and cross reference.

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