Social Contract, Free Ride: A Study of the Public Goods Problem

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Jasay refutes the common idea that we need a government as a provider of public goods. He argues that without taxation voluntary contributions to provide freely accessible benefits would be made by some members of groups adjusting their actions to the anticipated actions of other group members. Jasay concludes that when indivisibilities and the risks of non-provision are duly accounted for, voluntary contribution is an individually rational choice. The key argument for coercion turns out to be indecisive, and the need for a social contract at best unproven.

See also A Conversation with Anthony de Jasay, part of Liberty Fund’s Intellectual Portrait series via Econlib.

Social Contract, Free Ride: A Study of the Public Goods Problem (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008). Part of The Collected Papers of Anthony de Jasay.

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