Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Legal Monocentrism and the Paradox of Government

My paper "Legal Monocentrism and the Paradox of Government" has just been published in the new issue of The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. You might want to read it if you are interested in topics such as legal polycentrism, private provision of law and defense, and entrepreneurial creation of institutional frameworks.


  1. How is your concept of legal polycentrism distinct from our world as it exists today, i.e., our world which consists of many, different independent nation-states, each providing their citizens with its own brand of legal and defense services?

  2. All nation-states are coercive territorial monopolies, established through conquest and maintained through compulsory levies, so it is impossible to speak of genuine consumer choice, let alone of any intersubjective scale of efficiency in satisfying consumer choices, with respect to the protective and legal services they provide. Furthermore, what I call the legal rule-following paradox makes it unclear whether we can logically conceptualize these "services" as genuine economic goods in the first place, since their content is logically indeterminate and indeterminable by their recipients. Legal polycentrism in the form of contractual, freely competing protection and arbitration agencies, whose rudiments we see even today in the form of private bodyguard and arbitration companies, is able to overcome these problems. I treat all of these issues more extensively in the paper.

  3. I've read your paper and I will read it again more carefully. However, I don't see where you deal with the rudiments of coercion in a cooperative society. Private bodyguard and arbitration companies operate today within a society, i.e., under the umbrella of a higher law. They don't make law or act as final arbiters of the law. I guess I'm asking how a polycentric legal system consisting of say a dozen competing protection and arbitration agencies avoids devolving into a dozen separate monocentric legal systems?