Techdirt Reading List: Pirates, Prisoners, And Lepers
from the anarchy-in-reality dept
We’re back again with another in our weekly reading list posts, of books we think our community will find interesting and thought provoking. Once again, buying the book via the Amazon links in this story also help support Techdirt.
This week’s book is Pirates, Prisoners, and Lepers: Lessons from Life Outside the Law by Paul Robinson and Sarah Robinson. The book just came out earlier this year and it may be a little different than you expect. Unlike the usual “pirates” that we discuss, the part of this book about pirates is about actual pirates. Like those on the high seas.
I first found out about the book on a recent episode of Russ Robert’s EconTalk podcast. The book focuses on how communities act when groups of people are placed in positions without a government and laws to impose social order, and how those groups function. From there it discusses some possible lessons from those groups that could be applicable back in the world where there are laws and governing bodies. One particularly interesting aspect is the idea that any justice system needs to actually mete out reasonable punishment for crimes if people are to respect the law. While many believe that, because many scofflaws “get away” with their crimes, that you have to ratchet up the punishment as some sort of deterrent, Robinson argues that this leads to even less respect for the law overall. The book is not anti-punishment — in fact, quite the opposite — but does suggest that for punishment to work it needs to be reasonable.
I’m still only part way through the book, but between what I’ve read so far and Paul Robinson’s interview with Roberts, this is a worthwhile and thought provoking book.