Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on June 16, 2014

in Complexity & Emergence, Law, Seen and Unseen

… is from page 195 of the 1985 Liberty Fund edition of Arthur R. Hogue’s splendid 1966 volume, Origins of the Common Law:

Indeed, the body of English customs, general and particular, which have obtained the force of law, is so large that no one would seriously endeavor to prepare an exhaustive collection.

Law is emergent.  It is not designed and imposed from on-high.  Some of it is codified into legislation; some of it is also – or alternatively – written down in the form of judicial decisions.  But law’s expanse is so vast, its nuances so many and rich, and its edges so frequently changing that the popular myth that law is that set of rules designed and enforced by the state becomes increasingly absurd not only as one comes to understand the relatively elementary distinction between private law and public (or administrative) law, but also the more one studies the nature and history of law and the more one grasps the logic of spontaneous order.

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