Slices and Lumps
19 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2008 Last revised: 24 Mar 2008
Date Written: March 1, 2008
This brief essay, delivered in slightly different form as the 2008 Coase Lecture at the University of Chicago Law School, addresses problems involving the aggregation and division of entitlements. Fragments held by multiple parties - such as parcels of land, effort, or segments of a bridge - often must be assembled together to be worth much. Conversely, a presently unified entitlement may be more valuable if it can be split into separate pieces held by different parties. The essay examines these lumping and slicing problems (which turn out to be two sides of the same coin), shows how they turn up in both interpersonal and intrapersonal contexts, and discusses some tools for responding to them.
Keywords: property rules, liability rules, entitlements, assembly, division, intrapersonal dilemmas
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