The Nature of the State and the State of Nature: A Comment on Grady & Mcguire's 'the Nature of Constitutions'

40 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2000

See all articles by Todd J. Zywicki

Todd J. Zywicki

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Date Written: 2000

Abstract

In 'The Nature of Constitutions,'Mark Grady & Michael McGuire provide a model of the evolution and purposes of constitutions as arising to minimize appropriation by dominants of subordinates. This Comment builds on Grady & McGuire's article in three ways. First, it supplements their analysis by operationalizing a model of constitutional evolution that views constitutions as arising out of the conflict of competing high-ranking individuals to preserve their own authority. From this clash of self-interest of dominant individuals, institutions are born. This predicts that constitutions will not simply tame all forms of appropriation, but will also hard-wire some forms of appropriation behavior into the permanent constitutional structure. Second, it examines the American constitution in light of this model to show how that constitution reflects the mixture of appropriation and appropriation-taming behavior. Third, this Comment argues that the breakdown of constitutionalism in the United States this century can be explained by a failure to fully appreciate the purposes of constitutionalism in a biological framework.

Keywords: evolutionary economics, rent-seeking, constitutional economics, public choice.

Suggested Citation

Zywicki, Todd J., The Nature of the State and the State of Nature: A Comment on Grady & Mcguire's 'the Nature of Constitutions' (2000). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 00-02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=210010 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.210010

Todd J. Zywicki (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

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Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703-993-8091 (Phone)
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PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

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