Coase's World and Coase's Blackboard
18 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2010
Date Written: August 22, 2010
In this essay (which forms part of a collection celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of “The Problem of Social Cost”) I focus on a particular characteristic of Ronald Coase’s work, as exhibited in “The Problem of Social Cost”: his ability to force upon his audience a clearer grasp of reality than they previously held. More specifically, I aim to consider to what extent the “blackboard economics” that Coase himself derided have been avoided in a Coasean world, taking that expression to refer in some sense to a world where Coasean insights can flourish, and as such to be a world not simply of Coase’s own making but a world that has been developed by others in applying the Coase Theorem. My strategy is to interrogate the nature of a Coasean world through developing a framework that can look more closely at different approaches to theoretical modelling, the different worlds involved in these models, and the different positive and normative applications that can be derived from them. I further consider whether the understanding of the law that inhabits a Coasean world reflects a “real-world” legal environment. Finally, I seek to assess the impact of Coase’s work on our understanding of the relationship between law and economics, in our world.
Keywords: Coase, Coase Theorem, Law and Economics, Theoretical Models, Blackboard Economics, Positive and Normative Applications
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