… is from page 184 of Robert Ellickson’s brilliant 1991 book, Order Without Law (footnote deleted):
The stuff of a civilization consists largely of its substantive norms. These norms identify the everyday behaviors that call for the informal administration of rewards and punishments. In a well-functioning civilization, these informal rules – which have no identifiable author, no apparent date of origin, no certainty of attention from historians – are among the most magnificent of cultural achievements.
DBx: My only complaint about this splendid work of research and scholarship is with its title. The very real and productive order that Ellickson describes in the book is emergent – spontaneous – but it is not order without law; the order is governed thickly by law – by evolved, emergent law. A more accurate title would be Order Without Legislation.