Private Governance and the three biases of political philosophy

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. 1.

    In conversation.

References

  1. Brennan, J., & Jaworski, P. (2015). Markets without limits. New York: Routledge Press.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Brennan, J., & van der Vossen, V. (2017). The myths of the self-ownership thesis. In J. Brennan, V. van der Vossen, & D. Schmidtz (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Libertarianism. New York: Routledge Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Hasnas, J. (2008) The obviousness of anarchy. Anarchism/Minarchism: Is Government Part of a Free Country, ed. R. Long and T. Machan. Surrey: Ashgate Press.

  4. Hobbes, T. (1998 [1651]). Leviathan. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Holmes, S., & Sunstein, C. R. (2000). The cost of rights: Why liberty depends on taxes. New York: W.V. Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Kavka, G. S. (1995). Why even morally perfect people would need government. Social Philosophy and Policy, 12, 1–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Leeson, P. (2014). Anarchy unbound: Why self-governance works better than you think. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Locke, J. (1924 [1690]). Two treatises of government. London: J.M. Dent.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Ostrom, E. (1990). Governing the commons: the evolution of institutions for collective action. New York: Cambridge University Press.

  10. Rawls, J. (2001). Justice as fairness: A restatement. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Stringham, P. E. (2015). Private governance: Creating order in economic and social life. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jason Brennan.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Brennan, J. Private Governance and the three biases of political philosophy. Rev Austrian Econ 31, 235–243 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11138-017-0384-1

Download citation

Keywords

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

JEL classification

  • B53
  • P12
  • P14
  • P48
  • Y80