Amongst many, though certainly not all, political theorists and economists there is a tendency to believe that in the absence of government, mutually beneficial voluntary economic interactions- and hence property rights- cannot exist, or, if they can, do so only infrequently (see, for instance, Murphy and Nagel (2002); Buchanan (1975); Glaeser et al. (2001); Rand (1967) pp. 329 – 337; Friedman (2002); Epstein (1985) chapter 1; Macpherson (1962)). This view has as its philosophical progenitor Thomas Hobbes, who famously concludes in his masterpiece, Leviathan, that in order to allow for mutually beneficial economic interactions- and thus property rights- a civil authority with the power to create and enforce laws is first necessary. What Hobbes (and by implication most modern political theorists and economists) fails to address adequately is that agents can establish property holdings and facilitate economic transactions in the absence of a government via self-enforcing contracts, particularly given his starting assumptions.
Archive for the ‘Early Modern Philosophy’ Category
Hello to All!
In my previous post (also on Reid), one of our fellow contributors made note of the role of motives in differentiating Hume and Reid on the topic of Freedom & Determinism. This reminded me of some of the interesting things that Reid mentions about motives in one of his Essays on the Active Powers of the Human Mind. I wish to present excerpted quotes from the work, which encompass the 8 points made by this philosopher on the topic. You can find the work I’m pulling the quotes from here (make sure to click on “Complete Text,” and, once the pdf has opened, go down to Chapter 4).