An experimental investigation of Hobbesian jungles
Benjamin Powell a,∗, Bart J. Wilson b,1
Hobbes’s state of nature serves as the analytical starting point for much of what economists have written on anarchy and the formation of government. Unfortunately little historical evidence exists about how men behaved in a “state of nature”, if such a situation ever even existed. We conducted a laboratory experiment to create a Hobbesian state of nature and observe the level of economic efficiency subjects achieve. We also investigate Buchanan’s conjecture that people would unanimously agree to a social contract against theft.
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