Social Contracts And The Amish

Dave Killion — September 7, 2012

Having completed our last book (“The Market For Liberty“), but not quite ready to start our next (“For Your Own Good“), the Victoria Libertarian Book Club has taken a slight detour into a draft by David Friedman (“Legal Systems Very Different From Our Own“). Last night we discussed the chapters on Amish law, and on Gypsy law. They are both very brief reads, and I had only one quote from each that grabbed my attention. I’ll share the Gypsy quote tomorrow, but for now, here is the quote from the chapter on the Amish –

“Twice a year, all members of the congregation gather to take communion. Two weeks before, each is asked “whether he is in agreement with the Ordnung, whether he is at peace with the brotherhood, and whether anything ‘stands in the way’ of his entering into the communion service.” Communion does not take place until all members agree.”

What Friedman is talking about here is an example of a social contract to which the participants explicitly consent. Perhaps because libertarians have to spend so much time defending against arguments that there exists a social contract to which we all implicitly consent, the idea of of a voluntary social contract often goes unconsidered. I found the quote striking because the existence of such agreements only recently came to my attention. You can hear Cato Institute Senior Fellow Tom G. Palmer describe them, starting around the 11:00 mark of this video –

 

The whole video is well worth watching.

Comments

David says

This is very interesting Dave. Thanks for the video!

— September 8, 2012

Dave Killion says

^My pleasure, David. I have heard Palmer give two or three versions of this lecture, and I am just riveted by them. Did you get a chance to watch all of it?

— September 8, 2012

David says

Hi Dave: I’ve only watched the one you posted. This guy is fantastic. I want to watch more!

— September 8, 2012

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