August, 2015

Superstition and Self-Governance

  • Peter Leeson

    Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
  • Paola Suarez

    Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics, Purchase College, State University of New York
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This paper investigates the relationship between superstition and self-governance. We argue that at least some superstitions, and perhaps many, support self-governing arrangements. The relationship between such scientifically false beliefs and private institutions is symbiotic and socially productive. This simple but overlooked observation may help explain the emergence and otherwise puzzling persistence of both superstitions and “spontaneous” orders that seem perverse or dysfunctional, as well as why these two phenomena are often found together.