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

See all articles by Shruti Rajagopalan

Shruti Rajagopalan

Department of Economics, SUNY Purchase College; Classical Liberal Institute, NYU School of Law

Date Written: August 24, 2018

Abstract

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

Rajagopalan, Shruti, Blockchain and Buchanan: Code As Constitution (August 24, 2018). Forthcoming, James M. Buchanan: A Theorist of Political Economy and Social Philosophy, Richard E. Wagner (ed). Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3238472

Shruti Rajagopalan (Contact Author)

Department of Economics, SUNY Purchase College ( email )

735 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577
United States

Classical Liberal Institute, NYU School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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