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The Logic of Reciprocity: Trust, Collective Action, and Law

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  • Dan Kahan

    (Yale Law School)

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    Abstract

    The Logic of Collective Action has for decades supplied the logic of public policy analysis. In this pioneering application of public choice theory, Mancur Olson ele gantly punctured the premise -- shared by a diverse variety of political theories -- that individuals can be expected to act consistently with the interest of the groups to which they belong. Absent externally imposed incentives, wealth-maximizing individuals, he argued, will rarely find it in their interest to contribute to goods that benefit the group as a whole, but rather will "free ride" on the contributions that other group members make. As a result, too few individuals will contribute sufficiently, and the well-being of the group will suffer. These are the assumptions that dominate public policy analysis and ultimately public policy across a host of regulatory domains -- from tax collection to environmental conservation, from street-level policing to policing of the internet.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy in its series Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy Working Paper Series with number yale_lepp-1007.

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    Handle: RePEc:bep:yaloln:yale_lepp-1007

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