The Limits of Government
by David Schmidtz

Some philosophers have a sneaky way of slipping assumptions into their arguments. Schmidtz does this a couple times.
  1. Everything must be justified teleologically (by its purpose) or emergently (by being a necessary result of something that is justified, which ultimately comes down to something that is justified teleologically.
  2. Public goods (externalities) are assumed to exist.
  3. Externalities can be internalized (which is hard to conceptualize, much less agree with).
  4. The State is needed to define property rights, protect against other states, and arbitrate.
He uses the Prisoner's Dilemma as the basic paradigm for public goods problems. Then he discusses non-Prisoner-Dilemma public goods problems.

Experiments with volunteers using different strategies to contribute to public goods. Externalities can be positive, negative, neutral, or insignificant, depending on the values of the people experiencing them. The same externality can be positive to one individual and negative to another..

Reciprocity is the optimal "moral" strategy, better than nonstrategic altruism.

Year Read: 1995


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