Home > Uncategorized > All ye who enter here–abandon purist “Markets!” or “Government!” positions; let Elinor and Vincent Ostrom guide us in getting our hands dirty in the garden of self-governance

All ye who enter here–abandon purist “Markets!” or “Government!” positions; let Elinor and Vincent Ostrom guide us in getting our hands dirty in the garden of self-governance

[Cross-posted from the Collaborative Center Community on Facebook]

Leaving purist “Markets!” and “Government!” positions behind — I ask members to consider the relevance and the inspiration of the ‪#‎Ostroms(2009 Nobel Prize-winning Elinor and her husband Vincent) in getting our hands dirty in the garden of self-governance.

There’s a helpful paper by Paul Dragos Aligica and Peter Boettke that I invite you all to take a look at: http://mercatus.org/publication/social-philosophies-ostroms-institutionalism:

“More often than not Bloomington institutionalism is seen in a narrow way, i.e. only in relationship to the common pool resources studies, which are, indeed, very salient, yet, in fact, only one of the many dimensions of this research program. The reality is that the study of the “commons” emerged from a broader and deeper intellectual perspective that frames at a foundational level the work of the Bloomington scholars. As such, it is only one of the ways in which this intellectual vision becomes operational in the research practice. A closer look at this “perspective” reveals the fact that it is complex and profound enough to deserve to be considered what the literature calls a “social theory” or a “political philosophy.” Both explicit and implicit in the Ostroms’ work are attempts to understand, chart, evaluate, and articulate the basic categories with which we think about the social aspects of human life, as well as a willingness to deal with philosophical questions about social order and social behavior. Encapsulated in their studies are views about the nature and desirability of alternative systems of social organization and an effort towards their philosophical understanding. Even more, their empirical and policy-relevant contributions could be positioned in a very telling way at the intersection of several major trends in modern social thinking. Such exercises in interpretation reveal that the Ostroms’ contributions not only have a well-defined place in this intellectual history context, but also that, in many respects, their originality transcends the standard schools of thought and disciplinary boundaries. To focus only on the more salient and publicly visible pieces of the research produced by the Bloomington scholars — such as those on “governance” and “commons” — would be to miss an important part of Ostroms’ perspective on social order and institutionalism.

“The main objective of this paper is to explore what we call the “social theory” or the “social philosophy” that presumably shapes, inspires and defines the Ostroms’ research program. Our argument is that what we have called the “social theory” behind the Bloomington School’s research agenda has in fact two facets that may or may not be consistent with each other. Even more, they may or may not be necessarily and inseparably connected with the rest of the program. The first is built around the concept of “polycentricity” and a series of Public Choice insights, and is a challenge to two of the deepest assumptions of political and economic sciences in the 20th century: the monocentric vision of social order and the “market” versus “state” dichotomy. The second is built around a view of social order seen as a knowledge and learning process, along with a series of observations about the human condition, fallibility, coercion and error as well as about the factors engendering institutional order as a response to the challenges posed by them. But irrespective of how we approach and consider the relationship between these two facets, one thing is clear and stays unchanged: both feature an unambiguous normative engagement on behalf of self-governance and a robust faith in human freedom and human ingenuity.”

Some of my own blogging on Elinor Ostrom (often fighting misunderstanding libertarians) is here:http://tokyotom.freecapitalists.org/?s=ostrom

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