Celestial Anarchy

20 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2014 Last revised: 1 Mar 2015

See all articles by Alexander William Salter

Alexander William Salter

Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business; American Institute for Economic Research

Peter T. Leeson

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 15, 2014


Article II of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty prohibits the extension of territorial sovereignty to celestial bodies and prevents sovereigns from supporting private citizens’ property rights in such bodies, resulting in celestial anarchy. This paper argues that such anarchy poses no problem for sustaining enforceable private property rights in outer space. Economic theory and reality demonstrate that privately enforced property rights can and do emerge under terrestrial anarchy, suggesting that private enforcement can also sustain a property rights regime under celestial anarchy. Economically, at least, celestial anarchy is no threat to flourishing outer-space commerce.

Keywords: Anarchy, Law Merchant, Outer Space Treaty, private governance, property rights, self-enforcing exchange, sovereignty, space commerce, space law

JEL Classification: D23, H10, K11, K33, K39, P14

Suggested Citation

Salter, Alexander William and Leeson, Peter T., Celestial Anarchy (January 15, 2014). Cato Journal, Vol. 34, No. 3, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2379599

Alexander William Salter (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business ( email )

Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

HOME PAGE: http://awsalter.com

American Institute for Economic Research

PO Box 1000
Great Barrington, MA 01230
United States

Peter T. Leeson

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.peterleeson.com

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