Anarchy, State and Public Choice

Anarchy, State and Public Choice

New Thinking in Political Economy series

Edited by Edward Stringham

The book reprints the main articles from the 1972 volume Explorations in the Theory of Anarchy, and contains a response to each chapter, as well as new comments by Gordon Tullock, James Buchanan, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel and Peter Boettke. The younger economists are notably less pessimistic about markets and more pessimistic about government than their predecessors. Much of the new analysis suggests that private property rights and contracts can exist without government, and that even though problems exist, government does not seem to offer a solution. Might anarchy be the best choice after all? This provocative volume explores this issue in-depth and provides some interesting answers.

Chapter 3: Jungle or Just Bush? Anarchy and the Evolution of Cooperation

Jason Osborne

Subjects: economics and finance, public choice theory, politics and public policy, public choice


Jason Osborne [W]hen people cooperate, it is generally a conspiracy for aggression against others (or, at least, is a response to such aggression). Jack Hirshleifer (1994: 3–4) Hirshleifer expresses a point of view that permeates most of the analysis of anarchy in economic literature. The only interactions between individuals involve attempts to acquire each other’s wealth, or prevent this redistribution. Evidently, the only exception to this rule is the alignment of goals between or among individuals for the purpose of pillaging those outside of the conspiracy. Addressing this issue, this chapter will focus on Winston Bush’s view of Hobbesian anarchy, and compare it to a different vision of human interaction. The first section will demonstrate the inadequacy of government to solve conflict, given that a government could even be possible given the assumptions of the Bush model. The second part will provide a new analysis of anarchy in an evolutionary setting, derived from the recent work of Ronald Heiner (2002). This chapter will, it is hoped, reveal that the assumptions of these traditional conflict models are at best ridiculous, and that modeling individuals according to experimentally verified behavior yields a much higher level of cooperation than economists would have us believe. 1. DIVING INTO THE BUSH In his article ‘Individual welfare in anarchy’, Winston Bush creates a model outlining the optimization problem facing two individuals in anarchy. Each has an endowment of wealth and must choose an amount of effort to expend both protecting his endowment and stealing...

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