The Review of Austrian Economics

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 309–326

Networks, Law, and the Paradox of Cooperation

  • Bryan Caplan
  • Edward Stringham

DOI: 10.1023/A:1027393021392

Cite this article as:
Caplan, B. & Stringham, E. The Review of Austrian Economics (2003) 16: 309. doi:10.1023/A:1027393021392


There is a tension between libertarians' optimism about private supply of public goods and skepticism of the viability of voluntary collusion (Cowen 1992, Cowen and Sutter 1999). Playing off this asymmetry, Cowen (1992) advances the novel argument that the “free market in defense services” favored by anarcho-capitalists is a network industry where collusion is especially feasible. The current article dissolves Cowen's asymmetry, showing that he fails to distinguish between self-enforcing and non-self-enforcing interaction. Case study evidence on network behavior before and after antitrust supports our analysis. Furthermore, libertarians' joint beliefs on public goods and collusion are, contrary to Cowen and Sutter (1999), theoretically defensible.


Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bryan Caplan
    • 1
  • Edward Stringham
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsSan Jose State UniversitySan Jose