My first typology of property is here. In it I differentiate between contract enforcement among family/friend, anonymous strangers, and government. Adam Gurri responded, postingray ban sunglasses Best Price
You are definitely correct that the literature and experience has demonstrated that voluntary mechanisms are possible and widespread. Instead, it’s a matter of whether you can stop strangers from breaking into your house and stealing your stuff without government, which to my mind is a separate question from how behavior within the context of transactions is disciplined. I’m not sure the answer is as clear there; certainly *some* sort of threat of force is often required.
His point made me realize my typology was incorrect. We must not only consider the enforcement of contracts, but also immediate violence and theft. Therefore, the typology can be further broken up. Below is a table illustrating the possibilities.
The first question is what protects against breaking contracts or violence and theft among family and friends, 1 and 2 in the table. The answer, repeated interaction. It is a losing strategy to defect when the person is able to defect the next round. This is a consensus among economists that state enforcement is unnecessary for small homogeneous groups.
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The second part is more interesting, how to enforce contracts among anonymous strangers, 3 in the table, and how to ensure there is no violence and theft against anonymous strangers 4. Most economists are unclear on the distinction between the two options, however it is an important one. There is much evidence, international trade being the primary one, that state enforcement is unnecessary to protect contracts among anonymous strangers. However, as Gurri pointed out, the state is likely necessary to protect against violent expropriation from anonymous strangers.
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As such, the state exists less to protect private property per se, and more to protect against a specific type of encroachment on private property. In fact, given that many major American cities did not have police departments until the mid 19th century, it seems state exist primary to prevent large scale violence.
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The last section is less interesting. Government has little incentive to violate contracts because it is usually easier to directly expropriate wealth. The disagreement is how to ensure government does not expropriate wealth.