Document Type

Article

Comments

Giving, Trading, Thieving and Trusting: How and Why Gifts Become Exchanges and Vice Versa, 44 Florida Law Review 295 (1992)

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, "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth." 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's 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's suspicion that Don is really just trying to get rid of a piece of junk, and get (unjustified) credit for doing so.

Date of Authorship for this Version

1992

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