Sent: Friday, July 05, 2019 4:56 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Abnormal Vulnerabilities Under Libertarian Law
Dear Dr. Block,
Say someone is deathly allergic to peanuts, so much so that if his neighbor eats peanuts in his own yard the vulnerable one will die. Does the neighbor have an obligation not to eat peanuts?
No. Your example is similar to the case where a sick person needs an oxygen tent to live. He can’t go outside, unless everyone ceases smoking, eating peanuts, burning wood, etc. But, other people have been doing these things long before this guy came on the scene, and, thus have homesteaded these rights. So, he has to stay indoors, if he wants to keep living. Similarly, for eating peanuts. People have been doing this for years.
Now Coase, Posner, David Friedman and the Law and Economics scholars would answer this question very differently. They would engage in a “cost-benefit” analysis, and, if the harm to the allergic neighbor is greater than the joy of the peanut eater, eating peanuts would not be allowed.
For a critique of this sort of thinking, see:
Coase, Ronald H. 1960. “The Problem of Social Cost,” Journal of Law and Economics, 3:1-44; http://www.econ.ucsb.edu/~tedb/Courses/UCSBpf/readings/coase.pdf
Austro libertarian critics of Coasean law and economics:
Barnett and Block, 2005, 2007, 2009; Block 1977, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2010A, 2010B, 2010C, 2011; Block, Barnett and Callahan, 2005; Cordato, 1989, 1992a, 1992b, 1997, 1998, 2000; DiLorenzo, 2014; Fox, 2007; Hoppe, 2004; Krause, 1999; Krecke, 1996; Lewin, 1982; North, 1990, 1992, 2002; Rothbard, 1982, 1997; Stringham, 2001; Stringham and White, 2004; Terrell, 1999.
Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block. 2005. “Professor Tullock on Austrian Business Cycle Theory,” Advances in Austrian Economics, Vol. 8, pp. 431-443
Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block. 2007. “Coase and Van Zandt on Lighthouses,” Public Finance Review, Vol. 35, No. 6, November, pp. 710-733; http://pfr.sagepub.com/content/35/6/710
Barnett, William and Walter E. Block. 2009. “Coase and Bertrand on Lighthouses,” Public Choice; 140(1–2):1–13,http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11127-008-9375-x
Block, Walter E. 1977. “Coase and Demsetz on Private Property Rights,” The Journal of Libertarian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Review, Vol. I, No. 2, Spring, pp. 111-115, http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/1_2/1_2_4.pdf; reprint translation: “Coase y Demsetz sobre el derecho de propiedad privada,” Libertas 37, Octubre de 2002, año XIX, pp.5-20.
Block, Walter E. 1995. “Ethics, Efficiency, Coasean Property Rights and Psychic Income: A Reply to Demsetz,” Review of Austrian Economics, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 61-125, http://www.mises.org/journals/rae/pdf/rae8_2_4.pdf;http://www.mises.org/journals/rae/pdf/r82_4.pdf; reprint translation: “Ética, eficiencia, derechos de propiedad Coasianos e ingreso psíquico: una respuesta a Demsetz,” Libertas 37, octubre de 2002, año XIX, pp. 71-210
Block, Walter 1996. “O.J.’s Defense: A Reductio Ad Absurdum of the Economics of Ronald Coase and Richard Posner,”European Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. 3, pp. 265-286; http://www.walterblock.com/publications/block_oj’s-defense.pdf
Block, Walter E. 2000. “Private Property Rights, Erroneous Interpretations, Morality and Economics: Reply to Demsetz,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring, pp. 63-78;http://www.mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae3_1_8.pdf; reprint translation: “Derecho de propiedad privada, interpretaciones erróneas, moralidad y economía: en respuesta a Demsetz,” Libertas 37, octubre de 2002, año XIX, pp. 227-264
Block, Walter E. 2003. “Private property rights, economic freedom, and Professor Coase: A Critique of Friedman, McCloskey, Medema and Zorn,” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 26, No. 3, Summer, pp. 923-951;http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_go2782/is_3_26/ai_n6640908/?tag=content
Block, Walter E. 2006. “Coase and Kelo: Ominous Parallels and Reply to Lott on Rothbard on Coase,” Whittier Law Review, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 997-1022; https://litigation-essentials.lexisnexis.com/webcd/app?action=DocumentDisplay&crawlid=1&doctype=cite&docid=27+Whittier+L.+Rev.+997&srctype=smi&srcid=3B15&key=7abe221cecca64ce06068c3cbfa36fd1
Block, Walter E. 2010A. “A Response to Brooks’ Support of Demsetz on the Coase Theorem.” Dialogue, Vol. 2;http://www.uni-svishtov.bg/dialog/2010/2.10.WB.pdf
Block, Walter E. 2010B. “Rejoinder to Brooks on Coase and Demsetz.” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics; Vol. 13, No. 4, Winter, pp. 56-73; http://mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae13_4_3.pdf
Block, Walter E. 2010C. “Rejoinder to Boettke on Coasean Economics and Communism.” Romanian Economic and Business Review, Vol. 5, No. 3, Fall, pp. 9-90; http://www.rebe.rau.ro/REBE%205%203.pdf
Block, Walter E. 2011. “Rejoinder to Bertrand on lighthouses.” Romanian Economic and Business Review, Vol. 6, No. 3, Fall, pp. 49-67; http://www.rebe.rau.ro/REBE%206%203.pdf
Cordato, Roy E. 1989. “Subjective Value, Time Passage, and the Economics of Harmful Effects,” Hamline Law Review, Vol. 12, No. 2, Spring, pp.229-244.
Cordato, Roy E. 1992A. “Knowledge Problems and the Problem of Social Cost” Journal of the History of Economic Thought, vol.14, Fall, pp. 209-224.
Cordato, Roy E. 1992B. Welfare Economics and Externalities in an Open-Ended Universe: A Modern Austrian Perspective, Boston: Kluwer.
Cordato, Roy E. 1997. “Market-Based Environmentalism and the Free Market: They’re Not the Same,” The Independent Review, Vol. 1, No. 3, Winter, pp. 371-386.
Cordato, Roy. 1998. “Time Passage and the Economics of Coming to the Nuisance: Reassessing the Coasean Perspective,” Campbell Law Review, vol. 20, No. 2, Spring, pp. 273-292
Cordato, Roy. 2000. “Chasing Phantoms in a Hollow Defense of Coase” The Review of Austrian Economics, Vol. 13, No. 2, September, pp. 193-208.
DiLorenzo, Tom. 2014. “When Did Ronald Coase Become the Ayatollah of Economic Theory?” January 2;https://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/01/thomas-dilorenzo/the-beltarian-cult/
Fox, Glenn. 2007. “The Real Coase Theorems.” The Cato Journal: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Public Policy Analysis. Volume 27 Number 3, Fall, pp. 373-396; http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj27n3/cj27n3-5.pdf
Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 2004. “The Ethics and Economics of Private Property.” October 11;https://www.lewrockwell.com/hoppe/hoppe11.html
Krauss, Michael. 1999. “Tort Law, Moral Accountability, and Efficiency: Reflections on the Current Crisis” Markets and Morality, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring; http://www.acton.org/publicat/m_and_m/1999_spr/krauss.html
Krecke, Elisabeth. 1996. “Law and the Market Order: An Austrian Critique of the Economic Analysis of Law,” Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines 7(1), March, pp.19-37; Commentaries on Law&Economics, 1997 Yearbook, ed., Robert W. McGee, pp.86-109.
Lewin, Peter. 1982. “Pollution Externalities: Social Cost and Strict Liability.” Cato Journal, vol. 2, no. 1, Spring, pp. 205-229.
North, Gary. 1990. Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus, Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics.
North, Gary. 1992. The Coase Theorem, Tyler, TX: The Institute for Christian Economics
North, Gary. 2002. “Undermining Property Rights: Coase and Becker,” The Journal of Libertarian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Review, Vol. 16, No. 4, Fall, pp. 75-100; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/16_4/16_4_5.pdf
Rothbard, Murray N. 1982. “Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution,” Cato Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring; reprinted inEconomics and the Environment: A Reconciliation, Walter E. Block , ed., Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 1990, pp. 233-279. http://www.mises.org/rothbard/lawproperty.pdf; http://mises.org/story/2120
Rothbard, Murray N. 1997. “Value Implications of Economic Theory,” Logic of Action I (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar), pp. 255-265.
Stringham, Edward Peter, and Mark White. 2004. “Economic Analysis of Tort Law: Austrian and Kantian Perspectives.” In Law and Economics: Alternative Economic Approaches to Legal and Regulatory Issues, ed. Margaret Oppenheimer and Nicholas Mercuro, 374-392. New York: M.E. Sharpe.http://www.sjsu.edu/stringham/docs/Stringham.and.White2005.pdf
Stringham, Edward. 2001. “Kaldor-Hicks Efficiency and the Problem of Central Planning,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 4, No. 2, Summer, 41-50; http://www.mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae4_2_3.pdf
Terrell, Timothy D. 1999. “Property Rights and Externality: The Ethics of the Austrian School.” Journal of Markets and Morality. Vol. 2, No. 2, Fall; http://www.acton.org/publications/mandm/mandm_article_114.php
Debate: Block vs. Demsetz: Block – Demsetz debate (on Ronald Coase):
1. Block, Walter E. 1977. “Coase and Demsetz on Private Property Rights,” The Journal of Libertarian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Review, Vol. I, No. 2, 1977, pp. 111-115; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/1_2/1_2_4.pdf
2. Demsetz, Harold. 1979. “Ethics and Efficiency in Property Rights Systems,” in Time, Uncertainty and Disequilibrium: Explorations of Austrian Themes, Mario Rizzo, ed., Lexington Mass.: D.C. Heath and Co;http://mises.org/Books/timeuncertainty.pdf (see chapter 5)
3. Block, Walter E. 1995. “Ethics, Efficiency, Coasean Property Rights and Psychic Income: A Reply to Demsetz,”Review of Austrian Economics, 8 (2): 61-125, http://www.mises.org/journals/rae/pdf/rae8_2_4.pdf
4. Demsetz, Harold. 1997. “Block’s Erroneous Interpretations,” Review of Austrian Economics, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 101-109; http://www.mises.org/journals/rae/pdf/rae10_2_6.pdf
5. Block, Walter E. 2000. “Private Property Rights, Erroneous Interpretations, Morality and Economics: Reply to Demsetz,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring, pp. 63-78;http://www.mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae3_1_8.pdf
Lott, John R. 1983-1984. “A Note on Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution.” Cato Journal. Volume 3 Number 3, Winter, pp. 875-878
Block responded here:
Block, Walter E. 2006. “Coase and Kelo: Ominous Parallels and Reply to Lott on Rothbard on Coase,” Whittier Law Review, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 997-1022
Lott did not reply to this Block, 2006.
2:24 am on September 3, 2019 Email Walter E. Block