The Limits of Government: An Essay on the Public Goods Argument


David Schmidtz

The most widely accepted justification for political authority is that coercive institutions are necessary to provide for public goods. Making use of the tools of rational choice theory, economics, and the law of contracts, the author offers a critique of this argument. In this, Dave's first book, we find hints of what would become influential contributions to our understanding of the logic of contractarian arguments, the prisoner's dilemma, and the institution of property. An important lesson is that creativity, innovation, and heroism cannot be compelled: a community has to be primarily a voluntary association. The book's final chapter articulates themes regarding the foundations of morality that Dave has spent his career developing.

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