Book: The Economics of Law, Order, and Action: The Logic of Public Goods (Routledge Advances in Heterodox Economics)

“According to the standard position of the economic mainstream, the efficient production of so-called public goods, including law and defense, requires the use of territorial monopolies of coercive force. Two arguments are put forward for this position: a “positive” one, based on the claim that only such institutions can successfully supply society with crucial public goods, and a “negative” one, based on the claim that such institutions by themselves constitute inevitable “public bads”.

This book challenges this assumption by utilizing the insights of the Austrian School of Economics, New Institutionalism, constitutional political economy, and other heterodox economic approaches, combined with economically informed ethical analysis. It puts forward a positive case for voluntary social organization that offers new insights into the intersection of economic logic, social philosophy, institutional analysis, and the theory of entrepreneurship. In other words, in an attempt to draw on the interdisciplinary spirit of classical political economy, this book aims at providing a comprehensive economic and ethical case for extending the applicability of voluntary, entrepreneurial cooperation to the realm of creating and sustaining legal and protective services together with attendant institutional frameworks.”

From the book (Amazon):

“The present book is sympathetic to the ethical concerns of the anarchist tradition insofar as it is skeptical of the suggestion that monopolized violence can credibly serve as a foundation of law and order. At the same time, unlike the works of the majority of the classical representatives of this tradition, it makes explicit use of the tools furnished by the marginalist revolution in economics and emphatically recognizes the crucial role of private property and market entrepreneurship in creating advanced, well-functioning social orders. Thus, it is perhaps particularly well placed to evaluate critically the cogency of the neoclassical public goods arguments, especially as it employs for that purpose tools and arguments drawn from an alternative economic tradition originating in the marginalist revolutionthat of the so-called Austrian School of Economics and its parent discipline of praxeology (i.e., the logical analysis of human action). Moreover, it subsequently uses these same tools to engage in a similarly critical evaluation of the “dark obverse” of the public goods argument—namely the notion that territorial monopolies of force are “necessary evils,” whose activities are hardly beneficial in absolute terms but nonetheless cannot be replaced by any superior alternative.

In other words, the dual task of the present book is to highlight the shortcomings of the neoclassical and neoclassically influence arguments in favor of the desirability or inevitability of territorial monopolies of force and to present a comprehensive theoretical framework for the voluntary, contractual provision of law and order.”