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The Laws of Lawlessness

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  • Peter T. Leeson

Abstract

According to conventional wisdom, self-governance cannot facilitate order between the members of different social groups. This is considered particularly true for the members of social groups who are avowed enemies of one another. This paper argues that self-governance can do this. To investigate my hypothesis, I examine the Anglo-Scottish borderlands in the sixteenth century. The border people belonged to two social groups at constant war with one another. These people pillaged and plundered one another as a way of life they called "reiving." To regulate this system of intergroup banditry and prevent it from degenerating into chaos, border inhabitants developed a decentralized system of cross-border criminal law called the Leges Marchiarum. These laws of lawlessness governed all aspects of cross-border interaction and spawned novel institutions of their enforcement. The Leges Marchiarum and its institutions of enforcement created a decentralized legal order that governed intergroup relations between hostiles along the border. (c) 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved..

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Legal Studies.

Volume (Year): 38 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (06)
Pages: 471-503

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:38:y:2009:i:2:p:471-503

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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLS/

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Cited by:
  1. Olaf J. de Groot & Matthew D. Rablen & Anja Shortland, 2011. "Gov-aargh-nance: "Even Criminals Need Law and Order"," Economics of Security Working Paper Series 46, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  2. Edward Stringham & Todd Zywicki, 2011. "Rivalry and superior dispatch: an analysis of competing courts in medieval and early modern England," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 147(3), pages 497-524, June.
  3. Powell, Benjamin & Stringham, Edward P., 2008. "Public Choice and the Economic Analysis of Anarchy: A Survey," Working Papers 2008-7, Suffolk University, Department of Economics.
  4. Pauline Grosjean, 2011. "A History of Violence: The Culture of Honor as a Determinant of Homicide in the US South," Discussion Papers 2011-13, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
  5. Skarbek, David, 2012. "Prison gangs, norms, and organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 96-109.
  6. Art Carden & Christopher Coyne, 2013. "The political economy of the Reconstruction Era’s race riots," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 57-71, October.
  7. Hassani Mahmooei, Behrooz & Vahabi, Mehrdad, 2012. "Dueling for honor and identity economics," MPRA Paper 44370, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Nabamita Dutta & Sanjukta Roy, 2013. "The changing face of culture: gauging the impact of a free media," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 95-115, August.
  9. Peter Leeson, 2014. "Pirates, prisoners, and preliterates: anarchic context and the private enforcement of law," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 37(3), pages 365-379, June.
  10. Leeson, Peter T., 2010. "Rational choice, Round Robin, and rebellion: An institutional solution to the problems of revolution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 297-307, March.
  11. Koyama, Mark, 2012. "The Law and Economics of Private Prosecutions in Industrial Revolution England," MPRA Paper 40500, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Daniel D’Amico, 2010. "The prison in economics: private and public incarceration in Ancient Greece," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 145(3), pages 461-482, December.
  13. Peter Leeson, 2013. "Gypsy law," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 155(3), pages 273-292, June.
  14. Mark Koyama, 2014. "The law & economics of private prosecutions in industrial revolution England," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(1), pages 277-298, April.
  15. Boettke, Peter, 2011. "Anarchism and Austrian economics," MPRA Paper 33069, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  16. Stringham, Edward Peter & Zywicki, Todd J., 2011. "Hayekian anarchism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 290-301, May.
  17. Leeson, Peter T. & Nowrasteh, Alex, 2011. "Was privateering plunder efficient?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 303-317, August.
  18. Leeson, Peter T., 2011. "Government, clubs, and constitutions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 301-308.
  19. Smith, Adam C. & Houser, Daniel & Leeson, Peter T. & Ostad, Ramin, 2014. "The costs of conflict," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 61-71.
  20. Leeson, Peter T. & Coyne, Christopher J., 2012. "Sassywood," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 608-620.
  21. Benjamin Powell & Edward Stringham, 2012. "Radical scholarship taking on the mainstream: Murray Rothbard’s contribution," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 315-327, December.

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