The Review of Austrian Economics

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 235–243 | Cite as

Private Governance and the three biases of political philosophy



Private Governance shows that philosophers, political and legal theorists, and social scientists mistakenly believe in legal centralism, the view that order in the world depends upon and is made possible by state law. In fact, most governance not only happens to be private, but must be private. This paper extends Edward Stringham’s argument by claiming that philosophers tend to suffer from three biases. Diffidence bias means they are overly pessimistic about people’s willingness and ability to cooperate without state enforcement. Statism bias means the overestimate the degree to which cooperation is secured by the state. Guarantee bias means they overestimate the value and need for legal guarantees.


Polycentric law Anarchism Elinor Ostrom Cooperation Prisoner’s dilemma Trust game Assurance 

JEL classification

B53 P12 P14 P48 Y80 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA

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