glyph 284: Tom W. Bell ... polycentric law ... law prior to the state . origins of law . judge found law vs. legislative law . customary law, Anglo-Saxon law ... Roman law, Germanic law ... Gustave de Molinari . Adam Smith . F. A. Hayek, Bruce Benson, Robert Nozick ... jurisprudence


Privately Produced Law

resources for the study of polycentric law - the work of Tom W. Bell

In "Humane Studies Review", Volume 7, Number 1 Winter 1991/92, Tom W. Bell writes

Economists since Adam Smith have argued that competition in production serves consumers' interests, while monopolies tend toward sloth and waste. Gustave de Molinari was probably the first legal theorist who dared to ask why this should not be as true of the law as it is of apples, cotton, and iron. He argued that under the state's monopoly of law:

Justice becomes slow and costly, the police vexatious, individual liberty is no longer respected, [and] the price of security is abusively inflated and inequitably apportioned ...

He therefore advocated a non-monopolistic legal system and projected that once

... all artificial obstacles to the free action of the natural laws that govern the economic world have disappeared, the situation of the various members of society will become the best possible.

Since de Molinari, other scholars have developed sophisticated theories of polycentric law.

The above quotation was taken from a reprint of an Institute for Humane Studies journal found at

The study of polycentric law offers many rich opportunities for academic entrepreneurs. ... [and] offers the opportunity to research fascinating questions from a fresh point of view. More importantly, however, it offers the opportunity to help discover and develop the legal foundations of a free society based on consent, reciprocity, and justice. —Tom W. Bell

An eight page summary of the history of private law with a good bibliography:
entered before July 9, 2006

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