The State (Collected Papers of Anthony de Jasay) [Anthony de Jasay] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Strikingly original De Jasay. Strikingly original De Jasay offers the most compelling account of what is wrong and dangerous about the state.” —Alan Ryan The State is an idiosyncratic . Two Reviews of Anthony de Jasay’s The State. The State, reviewed by Robert E. Goodin in. Political Studies, Volume 33, Issue 4, , p. Suppose The.

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This review originally appeared in the Independent Review Justice and Its Surroundings the statee are concepts closely associated with justice and sometimes confused with it, such as equality or the state is an unusually rich, provocative, and wide-ranging work, to which a short review cannot do, well, justice.

Admirers of the state argue that various goals can be achieved only via the coercive stzte of government. To meet se arguments, libertarians must show either that the goals in question are not worth pursuing, because they are undesirable or impossible call this the “icky-goal response”or that however worthwhile the goals may be, state power is not necessary for achieving them call this the “needless-means response”.

In part 1, Anthony de Jasay offers a needless-means response to the claim that the state is necessary for the provision of social order. The problem of social order is commonly modeled as a prisoner’s dilemma: De Jasay grants perhaps too quickly that noncooperation is rational in a one-shot prisoner’s dilemma, but he insists that in real life we are more likely to have repeated interactions with the same people, so we have reason to cooperate in order to inspire like cooperation from them in the future.

To the claim that the state must provide public goods that is, goods from whose enjoyment noncontributors cannot be excludedde Jasay makes several rejoinders. First, public goods are not inherently public, but rather are made public by a “collective decision to avoid exclusion and its attendant costs” p.

Second, the costs of exclusion are often lower than is commonly assumed. Third, public goods are generally “lumpy” — that is, the amount provided is not a continuous function of the amount contributed; in such cases the failure of a single contribution can have a drastic impact on the amount provided, thus weakening the incentive to free ride.

And fourth, the benefits of public-goods provision must in any case be weighed against the principal-agent problems that beset state power.

De Jasay, Anthony [WorldCat Identities]

In response to the claim that the state is a precondition of social order, de Jasay points out that, on the contrary, the rise and perpetuation of the state presuppose social order. Either a society, considered apart from the state, can afford to protect property rights by paying the relevant exclusion costs, or it cannot. If it can, the state is not needed.

If it cannot, the society must lack the socioeconomic infrastructure needed to jqsay up and maintain a state in the first place. Hence, in any given context, the state is either unnecessary or impossible. De Jasay concludes that the problem with stateless social orders is not that they are tge unworkable, but rather that “states stop them from emerging, and intrude upon them when they do jasqy p.


It is difficult to know what moral the anarchists among us should draw from this conclusion. On the one hand, de Jasay brings us the cheery news that social order can be maintained without a state. On the other hand, he observes more gloomily that stateless social orders have not succeeded in holding their own against predatory states.

Is protection against the state, then, one good that markets have trouble supplying? One would like to hear more from de Jasay about this apparent instance of market failure. Having deployed the needless-means response against the claim that state power is needed to provide social order, de Jasay devotes parts 2 through 4 to examining claims that state power is needed to provide redistributive justice.

Here the icky-goal response predominates.

Against the “to each according to blank ” approach to justice popular among redistributionists, de Jasay defends the more traditional conception “to each his own. Owing perhaps to his quaintly positivistic conviction that moral judgments are “neither true nor false” and so do not admit of “intersubjective validity” p.

By contrast, he is at his strongest when showing that redistributionist proposals cannot achieve the goals their proponents claim to desire. He argues, for example, that redistribution leads naturally satte chronic unemployment. If employers are taxed to subsidize employees, the gain to employees will tend to be canceled by the shift in demand for labor entailed by the employers’ added costs; the employees can do no better than break even. If the subsidy instead takes the d of social insurance, those employees who would prefer money over social insurance will face a lower marginal benefit of labor.

Hence, the jssay of labor will shift by less than the demand for labor. The statee claim that they are calling for equality only of opportunitynot of outcomealso falls under de Jasay’s scrutiny.

There are, he observes, no opportunities so equal at time t 1 that people will not be shown to have made whether by choice or by necessity unequal use of them by time t 2. The opportunities that people have at t 2 will necessarily be, in part, a function of the use they made of the opportunities available to them at t 1, so if social justice requires equal opportunity not just once but in perpetuity, then jaaay gains and losses that emerged from the equal opportunities of t 1will have to be undone to restore at t 2 the status quo ante of t 1.

The distinction between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome thus collapses. To the argument that redistribution is necessary to compel the beneficiaries of positive externalities to pay for the benefits they receive, de Jasay replies that those who create positive externalities presumably find it worth their while to do so, despite knowing that they cannot expect to be compensated by the third-party beneficiaries of those externalities.


Hence, those creators have already been compensatedand asking third parties to pay additional compensation is unwarranted. De Jasay targets not only redistributionists, but also antiredistributionists of the limited-government variety. For example, he considers an argument by Richard Wagner the public-choice theorist, not the maestro of Bayreuth that goes as follows: Wagner’s recommended solution is a constitutional limitation on redistributive taxation.

De Jasay is critical of both the diagnosis and the cure. With regard to the diagnosis, he argues that the process of redistribution is unlikely to be cyclical in this manner: Hence, we should expect to see, and as a matter of empirical fact do see, a stable tendency for redistribution to flow downward rather than upward.

With regard to the cure, de Jasay reminds us that constitutional limitations are not self-interpreting or self-enforcing. Those who, under a majoritarian regime, have an incentive to pursue redistributive policies will have an equal incentive, under a constitutional regime, to amend or interpretively fudge constitutional limitations in a manner that allows redistribution.

Plausibly, these actions have already been taken.

Online Library of Liberty

We may wonder whether de Jasay has captured the whole story here, however. Existing welfare states are not pure majoritarian democracies; instead, they are governed by representatives with incentives of their own. Because affluent interests are more concentrated and in a better position to lobby, we would expect to see much upward redistribution.

And indeed we do, in such forms as corporate welfare, central-bank inflation, and subsidies for higher education. In part 5, de Jasay examines Amartya Sen’s argument that the Pareto criterion licensing any transfers that make nobody worse off by his own lights clashes with libertarian values because it allows the voluntary transfer of liberties that are properly inalienable.

De Jasay comes down on the side of Pareto, arguing that the epistemologically grounded presumption of liberty extends to the liberty to give up one’s liberties.

I found this section less persuasive. For inalienability theorists, the question is not whether one should be allowed to surrender certain liberties, but whether one even can.

De Jasay’s conception of a liberty is also unclear. If liberties are mere moral permissions, how can X’s giving up a liberty be sufficient to generate a right in Y, as de Jasay claims?

The State by Anthony De Jasay

If liberties are something stronger, how can de Jasay’s distinction between liberties and rights be maintained?

Of necessity, my summary has passed over much valuable material in Justice and Its Surroundings including a devastating critique of market socialism.

Anyone with interests in philosophy, economics, political theory, or rational-choice analysis will profit from close reading and long pondering of de Jasay’s arguments. Comment on the blog. View the discussion thread. Skip to main content. This review originally appeared in the Independent ReviewVolume 8, Summer