Coase and the Corleones

Forthcoming in Joshua Heter and Richard Greene, editors, The Godfather and Philosophy: We’re Gonna Make‘em an Argument They Can’t Refute (Open Court, 2023)

8 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2022

See all articles by F. E. Guerra-Pujol

F. E. Guerra-Pujol

Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico

Date Written: August 2, 2022

Abstract

My contribution to the new volume on The Godfather and Philosophy will explore the problem of reciprocal harms in the context of the famous wedding scene in the original Godfather movie. By way of background, one of the most influential ideas in legal, moral, and political philosophy is the harm principle or the notion that people should be free to do or say whatever they wish unless their actions or words cause harm to somebody else. The Godfather, however, shows us why the harm principle is logically incoherent. Aside from the difficulty of defining what counts as a harm, the main problem with the harm principle is that harms are often reciprocal in nature, a counterintuitive idea that can be traced back to the work of Ronald Coase. That is, most harms are, logically speaking, either the direct or indirect result of both the wrongdoer’s and the victim’s decisions. (This short paper is part of a larger series of works that I have written over the years using examples from popular culture to illustrate the problem of reciprocal harms.)

Keywords: Ronald Coase, Vito Corleone, The Godfather, harm principle

JEL Classification: A12, A13, B31, K13

Suggested Citation

Guerra-Pujol, F. E., Coase and the Corleones (August 2, 2022). Forthcoming in Joshua Heter and Richard Greene, editors, The Godfather and Philosophy: We’re Gonna Make‘em an Argument They Can’t Refute (Open Court, 2023), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4179573 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4179573

F. E. Guerra-Pujol (Contact Author)

Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico ( email )

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