Public Choice

, Volume 139, Issue 3–4, pp 443–459 | Cite as

The calculus of piratical consent: the myth of the myth of social contract

Article

Abstract

Is a genuine social contract mythical? I argue that pirates created genuine social contracts that established a system of constitutional democracy based on the same decision-making calculus and with the same effects that Buchanan and Tullock’s contractarian theory of government describes in The Calculus of Consent. Pirates’ constitutional democracy is the “holy grail” of social contract theory. It demonstrates that the contractarian basis of constitutional democracy is more than a mere analytic device or hypothetical explanation of how such a government could emerge. In pirates’ case, Buchanan and Tullock’s social contract theory describes how constitutional democracy actually did emerge.

Keywords

Pirates Social contract Calculus of consent Constitutional democracy 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. A full and exact account, of the tryal of all the pirates, lately taken by Captain Ogle … (1723[2007]). London: J. Roberts. In J. H. Baer (Ed.), British piracy in the golden age: history and interpretation, 1660–1730, Vol. 3. London: Pickering and Chatto. Google Scholar
  2. An account of the conduct and proceedings of the late John Gow … (1725[1970]). New York: Burt Franklin. Google Scholar
  3. Baer, J. H. (2007). British piracy in the golden age: history and interpretation, 1660–1730. London: Pickering and Chatto. Google Scholar
  4. Barzel, Y., & Sass, T. R. (1990). The allocation of resources by voting. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 105(3), 745–771. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Benson, B. L. (1989). The spontaneous evolution of commercial law. Southern Economic Journal, 55(3), 644–661. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Block, W, & DiLorenzo, T. J. (2000). Is voluntary government possible? A critique of constitutional economics. Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, 156(4), 567–582. Google Scholar
  7. Buchanan, J. M. (1975). The limits of liberty: between anarchy and leviathan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Google Scholar
  8. Buchanan, J. M., & Tullock, G. (1962). The calculus of consent: logical foundations of constitutional democracy. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Google Scholar
  9. Cordingly, D. (2006). Under the black flag: the romance and the reality of life among the pirates. New York: Random House. Google Scholar
  10. Downing, C. (1737). A compendious history of the Indian wars. London: Printed for T. Cooper. Google Scholar
  11. Durkheim, E. (1933). The division of labour in society. New York: MacMillan. Google Scholar
  12. Exquemelin, A. O. (1678[2000]). The buccaneers of America. Mineola: Dover. A. Brown. (Trans.) Google Scholar
  13. Exquemelin, A. O. (1699[2007]). The history of the bucaniers of America … now collected into one volume (5th edn.). London: Tho. Newborough. In J. H. Baer (Ed.), British piracy in the golden age: history and interpretation, 1660–1730, Vol. 3. London: Pickering and Chatto. Google Scholar
  14. Friedman, D. (1979). Private creation and enforcement of law: a historical case. Journal of Legal Studies, 8(2), 399–415. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Furbank, P. N., & Owens, W. R. (1988). The canonisation of Daniel Defoe. New Haven: Yale University Press. Google Scholar
  16. Hamilton, A., Madison, J., & Jay, J. (1961). In C. Rossiter (Ed.), The federalist papers. Clinton, New York: Menton. Google Scholar
  17. Hayward, A. L. (Ed.). (1735[1874]). Lives of the most remarkable criminals …, Vol. 1. London: Reeves and Turner. Google Scholar
  18. Heckathorn, D. D., & Maser, S. M. (1987). Bargaining and constitutional contracts. American Journal of Political Science, 31(1), 142–168. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hobbes, T. (1651). Leviathan. London: Printed for Andrew Chooke. Google Scholar
  20. Hume, D. (1748). Essays, moral and political. London: Printed for A. Millar. Google Scholar
  21. Johnson, C. (1726–1728[1999]). In M. Schonhorn (Ed.), A general history of the pirates, from their first rise and settlement in the Island of Providence, to the present time …. New York: Dover. Google Scholar
  22. Konstam, A. (2007). Scourge of the seas: buccaneers, pirates, and privateers. New York: Osprey. Google Scholar
  23. Leeson, P. T. (2007). An-arrgh-chy: the law and economics of pirate organization. Journal of Political Economy, 115(6), 1049–1094. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Leeson, P. T. (2008a). Pirational choice: the economics of infamous pirate practices. Mimeo. Google Scholar
  25. Leeson, P. T. (2008b, forthcoming). The invisible hook: the law and economics of pirate tolerance. New York University Journal of Law and Liberty. Google Scholar
  26. Leeson, P. T. (2008c, forthcoming). The laws of lawlessness. Journal of Legal Studies. Google Scholar
  27. Leeson, P. T. (2009). The invisible hook: the hidden economics of pirates. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Google Scholar
  28. Locke, J. (1690). Two treatises of government. London: Printed for Awnsham Churchill. Google Scholar
  29. McGuire, M. C., & Olson, M. Jr. (1996). The economics of autocracy and majority rule: the invisible hand and the use of force. Journal of Economic Literature, 34(1), 72–96. Google Scholar
  30. Rae, D. W. (1975). The limits of consensual decision. American Political Science Review, 69(4), 1270–1294. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rawls, J. (1971). A theory of justice. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Google Scholar
  32. Rediker, M. (1987). Between the devil and the deep blue sea: merchant seamen, pirates, and the Anglo-American maritime world, 1700–1750. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  33. Rediker, M. (2004). Villains of all nations: atlantic pirates in the golden age. Boston: Beacon. Google Scholar
  34. Riker, W. H., & Sened, I. (1991). A political theory of the origin of property rights: airport slots. American Journal of Political Science, 35(4), 91–969. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rogozinski, J. (2000). Honor among thieves: Captain Kidd, Henry Every, and the pirate democracy in the Indian Ocean. Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books. Google Scholar
  36. Rothbard, M. N. (1997). Buchanan and Tullock’s “The Calculus of Consent”. In M. N. Rothbard (Ed.), The logic of action two: applications and criticisms from the Austrian school. Cheltenham Glos: Edward Elgar. Google Scholar
  37. Rousseau, J.-J. (1761[1923]). In G. D. H. Cole (Trans. and Ed.), The social contract and discourses. London: J. M. Dent and Sons. Google Scholar
  38. Sass, T. R. (1992). Constitutional choice in representative democracies. Public Choice, 74(4), 405–424. Google Scholar
  39. Snelgrave, W. (1734[1971]). A new account of some parts of Guinea, and the slave trade. London: F. Cass. Google Scholar
  40. Spooner, L. (1870[1966]). No treason: the constitution of no authority and a letter to Thomas F. Bayard. Larkspur: Rampart College. Google Scholar
  41. The arraignment, tryal, and condemnation, of Capt. John Quelch … (1704[2007]). London: Ben. Bragg. In J. H. Baer (Ed.), British piracy in the golden age: history and interpretation, 1660–1730, Vol. 2. London: Pickering and Chatto. Google Scholar
  42. The tryals of Captain Jack Rackam, and other pirates … (1721[2007]). Jamaica. In J. H. Baer (Ed.), British piracy in the golden age: history and interpretation, 1660–1730. Vol. 3. London: Pickering and Chatto. Google Scholar
  43. The trials of eight persons indited for piracy &c … (1718[2007]). Boston: John Edwards. In J. H. Baer (Ed.), British piracy in the golden age: history and interpretation, 1660–1730, Vol. 2. London: Pickering and Chatto. Google Scholar
  44. The tryals of Major Stede Bonnet, and other pirates … (1719[2007]). London: Benj. Cowse. In J. H. Baer (Ed.), British piracy in the golden age: history and interpretation, 1660–1730, Vol. 2. London: Pickering and Chatto. Google Scholar
  45. Tryals of thirty-six persons for piracy … (1723[2007]). Boston: Samuel Kneeland. In J. H. Baer (Ed.), British piracy in the golden age: history and interpretation, 1660–1730, Vol. 3. London: Pickering and Chatto. Google Scholar
  46. Vanberg, V. (1994). Social contract theory. In P. J. Boettke (Ed.), The Elgar companion to Austrian economics. Cheltenham Glos: Edward Elgar. Google Scholar
  47. Vanberg, V. J. (2005). Market and state: the perspective of constitutional political economy. Journal of Institutional Economics, 1(1), 23–49. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Woodard, C. (2007). The republic of pirates. New York: Harcourt. Google Scholar
  49. Yeager, L. B. (1985). Rights, contract, and utility in policy espousal. Cato Journal, 5(1), 259–294. Google Scholar
  50. Yeager, L. (1994). Utilitarianism. In P. J. Boettke (Ed.), The Elgar companion to Austrian economics. Cheltanham: Edward Elgar. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.George Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

Personalised recommendations