Introduction to Spontaneous Order and Emergence of New Systems of Property

7 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2015 Last revised: 6 Jan 2016

Yun-chien Chang

Academia Sinica - Institutum Iurisprudentiae (IIAS); Cornell Law School

Richard A. Epstein

New York University School of Law; Stanford University - Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace; University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: November 1, 2015

Abstract

The theme of this symposium is obviously inspired by Friedrich A. Hayek, a Nobel laureate in economics and one of the most eminent classic liberal thinker of all time. Hayek developed the term “spontaneous order” (probably coined by Michael Polanyi) into an elaborate theory, which he used to explain the social phenomenon of cooperation. The purpose of this theory was to demonstrate how a decentralized system, which relied on local and dispersed information held by a large number of different and unrelated players, could be brought together through the operation of the price mechanism. The genius of this system is that no person who participates in that system has to inquire into the private purposes of his trading partner. It is enough that he knows that the other side thinks that it is better off by the exchange. The system thus produces more reliable decisions at lower cost, from which Hayek deduced that this simple mechanism could outperform a centralized system, which was in vogue after the Second World War, when Hayek developed his theory. As private law scholars, we are interested in how private bargaining, contracting, and local custom shape the property regimes over different types of assets in various legal systems. It is for that reason that the articles in this symposium examines the different forms of property rights: those that are legal or customary, formal or informal, and de jure and de facto. It examines these various permutations in the context of the property rights regimes in the U.S., Europe, and East Asia.

Keywords: spontaneous order, Hayek, property

JEL Classification: K11

Suggested Citation

Chang, Yun-chien and Epstein, Richard A., Introduction to Spontaneous Order and Emergence of New Systems of Property (November 1, 2015). Iowa Law Review, Vol. 100, 2015; NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 15-49; NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 15-21; University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 736; U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 552. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2668423

Yun-chien Chang (Contact Author)

Academia Sinica - Institutum Iurisprudentiae (IIAS) ( email )

128 Academia Sinica Rd., Sec. 2
Nankang
Taipei City, 11529
Taiwan

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States

Richard A. Epstein

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012
United States
(212) 992-8858 (Phone)
(212) 995-4894 (Fax)

Stanford University - Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-9563 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)

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