TOOLS OF DOMINION
The inability of anyone to make scientifically valid interpersonal
comparisons of subjective utility has once again smashed all the
hopes of the free market’s humanist defenders to deal “scientifically”
with a problem of social policy. The more astute “anarcho-capitalists”
have understood this, and have thereby abandoned the very idea of
social utility and social costs. They have also abandoned the idea of
civil government. ‘g They have not been able to demonstrate how
people can deal successfully with the problems created by such tech-
nological developments as the internal combustion engine. But at
least they are consistent. They do not search for “fools gold” intellectual
solutions to “scientifically” insoluble problems. They do not search
for pseudo-market solutions – ‘What ‘would the correct market price
be in the absence of a market?”- or solutions involving the hypothet-
ical (and scientifically impossible) ability of judges to make scienti-
fically valid social cost-benefit analyses in settling disputes. There can
be no scient@cal@ valid answers to such social problems, given the presupposi-
tions of modern, subjectivistic, individualistic economic theory. Yet the ap-
proach used by Cease and his academic followers to deal with these
questions assumes that there are scientifically valid answers to them.
Since there are no “neutral, scientific” answers, Cease’s whole
essay is an exercise in intellectual gymnastics — an illusion of scientific
TO Nevertheless, it is considered a classic essay — a pioneer-
ing work which literally created a new approach in both economics
and legal theory. What is revealing is that the economics profession
as a whole has refused to face up to this problem, and it took over
two decades for a critical analysis based on a 45-year-old observation
by Lionel Robbins to be applied to the Cease theorem by an assis-
tant professor (untenured) at an obscure university to be published
in a new intellectual journal that has no following within the
71 Such is academia: academia nuts.
69. “There is no government solution to pollution or to the common-pool prob-
lem because government is the problem.” Gerald P, O’Driscoll, Jr., “Pollution, Lib-
ertarianism, and the Law,” tbid, p. 50.
70. This same illusion of scientific precision is at the he,art of virtually every pro-
fessional journal in economics, every mathematical equation, and every call for
scientific policy-making issued by members of the economists’ guild. The day an
economist admits to himself that no economist can make interpersonal comparisons
of subjective utility is the day that his public claims of economics’ objective, scientific
precision make him a charlatan. The day before, he was simply ignorant.
71. I came across Lewin’s article only after the bulk of this chapter was written,
In my 1973 book, An Introduction to Christian Economics, I briefly referred to “R. H.
Cease’s clever sophistry,” (p. 94n), but did not have space to pursue his arguments in
detail. Some readers may think I should have let it go at that, or devoted the neces-
sary space in some place other than here.