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Hayekian anarchism

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  • Stringham, Edward Peter
  • Zywicki, Todd J.

Abstract

Should law be provided centrally by the state or by some other means? Even relatively staunch advocates of competition such as Friedrich Hayek believe that the state must provide law centrally. This article asks whether Hayek's theories about competition and the use of knowledge in society should lead one to support centrally provided law enforcement or competition in law. In writing about economics, Hayek famously described the competitive process of the market as a "discovery process." In writing about law, Hayek coincidentally referred to the role of the judge under the common law as "discovering" the law in the expectations and conventions of people in a given society. We argue that this consistent usage was more than a mere semantic coincidence--that the two concepts of discovery are remarkably similar in Hayek's thought and that his idea of economic discovery influenced his later ideas about legal discovery. Moreover, once this conceptual similarity is recognized, certain conclusions logically follow: namely, that just as economic discovery requires the competitive process of the market to provide information and feedback to correct errors, competition in the provision of legal services is essential to the judicial discovery in law. In fact, the English common law, from which Hayek drew his model of legal discovery, was itself a model of polycentric and competing sources of law throughout much of its history. We conclude that for the same reasons that made Hayek a champion of market competition over central planning of the economy, he should have also supported competition in legal services over monopolistic provision by the state--in short, Hayek should have been an anarchist.

Suggested Citation

  • Stringham, Edward Peter & Zywicki, Todd J., 2011. "Hayekian anarchism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 290-301, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:78:y:2011:i:3:p:290-301
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Edward Stringham, 2014. "Extending the Analysis of Spontaneous Market Order to Governance," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 42(2), pages 171-180, June.
    2. William Luther, 2015. "The monetary mechanism of stateless Somalia," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 165(1), pages 45-58, October.
    3. Skarbek, David, 2012. "Prison gangs, norms, and organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 96-109.
    4. Todd Zywicki, 2015. "Bruno Leoni's Legacy and Continued Relevance," Journal of Private Enterprise, The Association of Private Enterprise Education, vol. 30(Spring 20), pages 131-141.
    5. Peter Boettke & Rosolino Candela, 2014. "Hayek, Leoni, and Law as the Fifth Factor of Production," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 42(2), pages 123-131, June.
    6. repec:kap:revaec:v:30:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11138-017-0375-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Benjamin Powell & Edward Stringham, 2012. "Radical scholarship taking on the mainstream: Murray Rothbard’s contribution," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 25(4), pages 315-327, December.

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