Journal of Libertarian Studies

Reciprocal Exchange as the Basis for Recognition Of Law: Examples from American History

The Journal of Libertarian Studies

The literature of American legal history is primarily a history of federal and state governments, creating the false impression that these governments have produced and enforced all relevant law. Indeed, there seems to be a widely held belief that law and order could not exist in a society without the organized authoritarian institutions of the state. But while law can be imposed from above by some powerful authority, like a king, a legislature, or a supreme court, law can also develop “from the ground”, as a result of a recognition of mutual benefits, through exchanged agreements (explicit or implicit contracts) to obey and participate in the enforcement of such law.

Volume 10, Number 1 (1991)


Benson, Bruce L. “Reciprocal Exchange as the Basis for Recognition Of Law: Examples from American History.” Journal of Libertarian Studies 10, No. 1 (1991): 53–82.

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