The ecological and civil mainsprings of property

An experimental economic history of whalers' rules of capture

Bart J. Wilson, Taylor Jaworski, Karl Schurter, Andrew Smyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article uses a laboratory experiment to probe the proposition that property emerges anarchically out of social custom. We test the hypothesis that whalers in the 18th and 19th centuries developed rules of conduct that minimized the sum of the transaction and production costs of capturing their prey, the primary implication being that different ecological conditions led to different rules of capture. Ceteris paribus, we find that simply imposing two different types of prey is insufficient to observe two different rules of capture. Another factor is essential, namely, as Samuel Pufendorf theorized over 300 years ago, that the members of the community are civil minded.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)617-656
Number of pages40
JournalJournal of Law, Economics, and Organization
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012

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economic history
production costs
transaction costs
laboratory experiment
community
Experimental economics
Economic history
Factors
Transaction costs
Laboratory experiments
Production cost
Ceteris paribus
18th century

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Law

Cite this

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The ecological and civil mainsprings of property : An experimental economic history of whalers' rules of capture. / Wilson, Bart J.; Jaworski, Taylor; Schurter, Karl; Smyth, Andrew.

In: Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Vol. 28, No. 4, 01.10.2012, p. 617-656.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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