Actual Problems of
Economics and Law




DOI: 10.21202/1993-047X.10.2016.4.176-199

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Authors :
1. Federica Carugati, Stanford University and the Ostrom Workshop
Indiana University, Bloomington, USA

2. Gillian K. Hadfield, Richard L. and Antoinette Schamoi Kirtland Professor of Law, Gould School of Law, and Professor, Department of Economics
University of Southern California, USA

3. Barry R. Weingast, Ward C. Krebs Family Professor, Department of Political Science, and Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
Stanford University, USA

Building legal order in ancient Athens

Objective: to identify the specific features of the essence, content and functioning of legal order in ancient Athens.

Methods: the methodological basis of the research is the general dialectic method of cognition, which allows to explore the phenomena and processes in their historical development, interconnection and interdependence, as well as the general scientific, special and specific scientific methods of cognition, based on the former one.

Results: democratic Athens was remarkably stable and prosperous, but the ancient city-state never developed extensively centralized rule of law institutions. Drawing on the "what-is-law" account of legal order elaborated by Hadfield and Weingast, the research shows that Athens' legal order relied on institutions that achieved common knowledge and incentive compatibility for enforcers in a largely decentralized system of coercion.

Scientific novelty: for the first time it has been proved that Athens in the fourth century BC can serve as an example of building the rule of law in places where governments are weak, corrupt or nonexistent. Athens’ experience shows that one should focus on developing centralized institutions that are capable of coordinating decentralized enforcement mechanisms by (i) elaborating and publicizing decisions as common knowledge about wrongful behavior and its appropriate punishment; (ii) incentivizing decentralized punishment by fostering individual trust in the system; and (iii) linking individual participation to the survival of the political community.

Practical significance: the main provisions and conclusions of the article can be used in scientific and educational activity when considering the issues of the essence, content and functioning of legal order.

Keywords :

Legal order; Law and order; Athens; Law institution; State power

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Original publication: https://academic.oup.com/jla/article/7/2/291/1751160

Citation :

Carugati F., Hadfield G. K., Weingast B. R. Building legal order in ancient Athens, Actual Problems of Economics and Law, 2016, vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 176–199 (in Russ.). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21202/1993-047X.10.2016.4.176-199

Type of article : The scientific article

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