July, 2007

Finding Social Dilemma: South of Babel, not East of Eden

  • Richard Wagner

    Distinguished Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics
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This working paper refracts Gordon Tullock's The Social Dilemma onto a framework of spontaneous order theorizing, and finds the refraction to work well. The Social Dilemma reveals Gordon Tullock to be a theorist whose conceptualizations are anchored in a societal setting represented better by networks than by fields, and where societal outcomes emerge out of local networked interaction. The theoretical orientation of The Social Dilemma is redolent with spontaneous order themes, including his adoption of a field of vision that looks for social order south of Babel and not east of Eden. The paper also makes some secondary effort to compare The Social Dilemma with James Buchanan's The Limits of Liberty.