Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on September 24, 2011

in Civil Society, Complexity & Emergence, Cooperation, Economics, History, Hubris and humility, Law

… is from page 253 of Sir Henry Sumner Maine’s brilliant 1861 book Ancient Law:

It is certain that the science of Political Economy, the only department of moral inquiry which has made any considerable progress in our day, would fail to correspond with the facts of life if it were not true that Imperative Law had abandoned the largest part of the field which it once occupied, and had left men to settle rules of conduct for themselves with a liberty never allowed to them til recently.  The bias indeed of most persons trained in political economy is to consider the general truth on which their science reposes as entitled to become universal, and, when they apply it as an art, their efforts are ordinarily directed to enlarging the province of Contract and to curtailing that of Imperative Law, except so far as law is necessary to enforce the performance of Contracts.


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