Dawkins and Maynard Smith were, of course, talking about populations of animals whose organizational complexity is of a much lower order than that of humans, but I have long thought that if we could pull back law to expose its roots, we would find an ESS. In other words, we would find that human life cannot exist without the kind of widely agreed and consensual strategies for social organization and dispute resolution that typically fall within the realm of “law.” It is the combination of our consent and its function that makes it law, not the success of coercion to achieve security. Those are abstract ides that only make sense when, as people like Yoo argue, the institution of government is a good in itself, whose primary goal is its own self-maintenance. But government separated from the governed and given its own independent existence is like a train going off the tracks.You'll have to head over there to find out. (And you'll be glad you did.)
So what does all of this have to do with vigilantism?
Mar 3, 2009
vigilantism and evolution
Regarding the March/April vigilantism resolution, Peter Wall has posted a third entry in his wide-ranging study of vigilantism and the rule of law. In a central passage, he refers to the "evolutionarily stable strategies" noted by John Maynard Smith and Richard Dawkins: