Markets Limited, Friendship Unlimited

The Molinari Society will be holding its mostly-annual Pacific Symposium in conjunction with the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association in San Francisco, 5-8 April 2023. Here’s the schedule info:


Molinari Society symposium, part 1:
Author Meets Critics: Gary Chartier, Understanding Friendship: On the Moral, Political, and Spiritual Meaning of Love

G4D. Thursday, 6 April 2023, 6:00-8:00pm, Westin St. Francis Hotel, 335 Powell St., San Francisco CA 94102, Elizabethan C (2nd floor).

Roderick T. Long (Auburn University)

Gary Chartier (La Sierra University)

Neera Badhwar (University of Oklahoma and George Mason University)
Michael Pakaluk [in absentia] (The Catholic University of America)
Roderick T. Long (Auburn University)

Molinari Society symposium, part 2:
Author Meets Critics: James Stacey Taylor, Markets with Limits: How the Commodification of Academia Derails Debate

G7E. Friday, 7 April 2023, 7:00-9:00pm, Westin St. Francis Hotel, 335 Powell St., San Francisco CA 94102, Olympic (2nd floor).

Roderick T. Long (Auburn University)

James Stacey Taylor (The College of New Jersey)

Amy White (Ohio University)
Roderick T. Long (Auburn University)

[Glen Whitman (CSU Northridge), previously announced as an additional commentator, had to withdraw.]

“An Unjust Law Is Not a Law”

According to Augustine, Aquinas, and Martin Luther King, Jr., an unjust law is no law at all. I’ll call this thesis ULNL, relying more on Aquinas’s version of it than Augustine’s or MLK’s. ULNL is, famously or notoriously, a staple of natural law theorizing. Though sympathetic to what he calls “the minimal content of natural law,” H.L.A. Hart takes issue with ULNL in The Concept of Law on both theoretical and deliberative grounds. Continue reading

Halal Hart: H.L.A. Hart and Divine Law

I’m about to run another crazy H.L.A. Hart-inspired idea by you. It runs along the same lines as my last post, so let me just quote the first few paragraphs of that post as a preface to the thought itself:

According to H.L.A. Hart, law is a union of primary and secondary rules. A rule is a codified directive to someone. Primary rules are primary because they give directives directly to, or impose obligations directly on, those governed by the rule. Secondary rules are rules about the primary ones, specifying “the ways in which the primary rules may be conclusively ascertained, introduced, eliminated, varied, and the fact of their violation conclusively determined” (Hart, Concept of Law,  p. 94). Among the secondary rules is a “rule of recognition,” which specifies “some feature or features possession of which by a suggested rule is taken as a conclusive affirmative indication that it is a rule of the group to be supported by the social pressure it exerts” (Hart, Concept of Law, p. 94).

The rules of recognition are both ultimate and supreme with respect to a legal system. They’re ultimate in the sense that they (collectively) provide the most fundamental criterion for determining the validity of any given rule within the system. They’re supreme in the sense that they override any competing norms apparently eligible for validity within the system. On Hart’s view, it’s a necessary and sufficient condition of law that within any putative legal system, the primary and secondary rules so conceived are generally obeyed by those governed by them, and the rules of recognition are “effectively accepted as common public standards of official behaviour” by the officials in charge of the system (Hart, Concept of Law, p. 116).

Continue reading

Groundwork Books!

Continuing the San Diego bookstores series, I chat with Jack Ran of the Groundwork Book Collective, a radical left-wing bookstore on the campus of UCSD. Topics include running a bookstore as an egalitarian collective; participating in wildcat strikes; surviving arson attacks; the dynamics of anarchist/Marxist cooperation; conflicts with the university administration; what campus leftists owe to Donald Trump; and the joys of reading Proudhon, Kevin Carson, and Shawn Wilbur.

If I seem a little sleepy during the video, it’s because I’d gotten very little sleep the night before. I blame capitalism.

The Long Arm of the Law Merchant

In my latest Agoric Café video, I chat with economist Bruce L. Benson about polycentric mercantile law in medieval Europe and among the Plains Indians; whether private law can work outside of small homogeneous communities; causation vs. correlation in the gun control debate; the perils of scissors-and-paste history; the abolition of criminal law; the incentival perversities of the reservation system; the inevitability of the state; and what intellectual debt he owes to the u.s. military.

Tomfoolery in the Overhead Compartment

The Agoric Cafe is serving once again!

In my latest video, I chat with globetrotting, gunslinging, contraband-smuggling libertarian scholar Tom G. Palmer on the legitimacy of self-defense; the militarisation of police; prison abolitionism; the wars on drugs, guns, and gays; the economics and ethics of bounty hunting; the French liberal demystification of the state; lawlessness vs. anarchy; the perversities of the FDA and CDC; Afghan libertarianism; hatred as a treacherous muse; how to sneak a photocopy machine into the Soviet bloc; and the height of the sky.

Adventures in Space and Time

Three Agoric Café videos this week! What have you done to deserve such a superfluity of Agoric content? Nothing good, I’ll warrant.

In the main event, I chat with economist and legal scholar David Friedman on free-market anarchism; the Society for Creative Anachronism; tectonic geology; the quasi-anarchic legal systems of medieval Iceland and 18th-century England; being converted to anarchism by Robert Heinlein; how getting a Ph.D. in physics led to being an economist at a law school; the joys of fomenting war and exploiting one’s students; how he repeatedly achieved promotion through violence against his predecessors; how to make medieval armor both for humans and for turnips; how innovations in fireplace design facilitated adultery; and the perils of central planning for wizards.

The Friedman interview is bookended by two other videos of lesser import – this one, in which I show you around my childhood neighbourhood in San Diego (Sunset Cliffs and Ocean Beach, in Point Loma):

and finally this one, in which I share a special message for the New Year: