Panarchy: Political Theories of Non-Territorial States Reply

An interesting book review.

By Vlad Tarko

The Independent Review

One of the most important and difficult problems in political economy is how to overcome the social and political costs of heterogeneity and enjoy the cultural and economic benefits of diversity. People’s preferences differ on numerous margins, and, ideally, everyone should be able to enjoy as many of the goods and services that they prefer, and be allowed the right to refuse what they don’t like. This includes the choice of their preferred communities with rules and norms closest to their desires and sense of identity. The problem, of course, is that a choice of community involves a preference over other people’s behaviors, and conflicts are bound to happen. “Mind your own business,” says Amanda, but Bill feels Amanda’s actions affect him and wants a say. He feels entitled to have a say, while Amanda feels oppressed or even assaulted. What is the best institutional arrangement for curtailing such conflicts or preventing them in the first place? Before trying to answer this question, it is important to acknowledge that such differences of opinion often cannot be answered by objective means. They often involve genuine diverging preferences. And even when they could be solved in principle, when they come down to opinions about facts, in practice, we often lack sufficient knowledge of the entangled processes underlining modern complex societies for consensus to be achievable.

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