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First Draft of summaries for Molinari and Murphy articles

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Wheylous Posted: Thu, Sep 20 2012 12:58 PM

As part of my LibertyHQ effort I am seeking to aggregate and then summarize articles on issues in libertarianism. You can see what I have so far here:

Yesterday on my commute back from school I read two articles in their entirety and began a third.

The first was Molinari's The Production of Security. The second was Law and Appeals in a Free Society by Murphy.

Here are my notes that I took as I read the articles. Naturally, the Molinari notes will have to be shortened significantly to become a "summary," but here they are for what it's worth for someone's enjoyment.


Notes on Molinari:


Molinari writes to an audience of mid-19th century laissez-faire French economists. He observes that the division of labor is useful in the provision of security, and that man by himself would not achieve much. He also notes that it is a generally accepted law of nature that labor and trade work best when free. Why, then, do no economists dare to question the exception of the production of security? Either economics as a study is correct in saying free competition is good, or it is bad. Following the logical conclusion, we know a priori that the production of defense ought to be freed to the competitive process. The question, then, is how the market for security would look.

Molinari examines the concepts of monopoly and communism and concludes, in accordance with economic law, that neither is good (in his understanding, a monopoly can only stand through the initiation of force against consumers or possible competing producers). He then examines history through the lenses of monopoly and communism.

Molinari continues by questioning the divine rights of kings and heads of state (monopoly). He notes that if the laws of social order and organization are made by heads of state, then these men must have access to some insight the other mere mortals do not. In other words, he points out the circularity of the argument that government must exist because men are evil (while government somehow remains completely unvarnished by the humans who in fact run it). He then argues that under communism the decision of the majority is not a de facto reality, but that the rule of law breaks down when the laws of government are overly onerous upon the minority.

Molinari continues by walking the reader through a hypothetical society with a free market in the provision of security. He examines the incentives and opportunity costs involved. He also explains why a bellicose warlord would not take over.

[Note: Molinari uses “government” unlike modern writers – his conception of “free government” (which essentially allows for unlimited secession and competition) is in effect a free market company in competition with other such companies. Molinari merely shies away from calling the society stateless or anarchical.]


Molinari stresses the importance of recognizing society as an outgrowth of natural organization (or spontaneous order) as opposed to an artificial structure devised and imposed by a few men.




“if it were true that the laws which govern its motion were to be constantly modified or remade, the legislators would necessarily have to have an immutable, sacred authority. Being the continuators of Providence on earth, they would have to be regarded as almost equal to God. If it were otherwise, would it not be impossible for them to fulfill their mission?”



Note Adam Smith’s discussion of the courts in England.


Prerequisites  - a basic yet solid foundation of market economics and understanding of incentives at work at the microeconomic level.

Murphy notes:


Murphy begins by giving a quick summary of why private courts and judges would need to exist in the first place (social legitimization of the process of justice and impartial judgment) and how they would function (competition weeds out corruption). He examines the question of how appeals would work in a free society by walking the reader through an example case of a stolen laptop. He concludes by explaining why there would likely not be unlimited appeals but courts would have reached interlocking agreements over the situations in which appeals would be appropriate.

Prerequisites – a non-technical understanding of market economics and an understanding of the concept and libertarian definition of “stateless society” and “private court system.”



For those interested, the third article I'm reading is Anarchism and the Public Goods Issue: Law, Courts, and the Police by Osterfeld, which looks pretty awesome.


Also, please tell me whether the site could benefit from having both a summary and "longer summary".

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