Blockchain and Buchanan: Code As Constitution
Forthcoming, James M. Buchanan: A Theorist of Political Economy and Social Philosophy, Richard E. Wagner (ed). Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.
27 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2018
Date Written: August 24, 2018
This article argues that one can conceptualize computer code as constitutional rules and constraints governing blockchain technology. The Bitcoin protocol in particular is essentially a set of rules written in computer code governing what is, and what is not, allowed by the participants in the Bitcoin network. No single participant can change the rules, but new rules (in the form of upgrades to the open-source software) can be advanced by different participants. The key to understanding Bitcoin’s rules is to understand consensus. In this context, Buchanan’s scholarship is extremely relevant to this new technology.
Keywords: Bitcoin, blockchain, James Buchanan, monetary constitution, choice of rules, consensus, unanimity
JEL Classification: E24, O33, K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation