Monday, January 31, 2022

"Crypto and the politics of money", Tooze and Morozov 

EM: The whole new field of “cryptoeconomics” seems to ignore the macro-level and just focuses on getting the Homo Economicus to behave through better-designed incentives… If one were to write an intellectual history of cryptoeconomics, it’s going to be almost exclusively dominated by mechanism/market design and game theory, its non-existent macro-economics stuck in denial somewhere between the extremes (all on the far-right) of someone like Murray Rothbard and his libertarian opponents who preach Free Banking. This ignorance of the macrofinancial is premised on what seem like wrong-headed ideas about the nature of fiat money and it not being “backed” by anything… Could you briefly tell us why in your opinion the standard crypto critique of fiat money makes a mistake in ignoring the ways in which the structures of macrofinance actually do back, say, the US dollar?

AT: Well it is a vertiginous realization isn’t it? That money is not backed by “anything.” I’ve shocked year after year of smart college students by forcing them to face that reality. There are always a significant minority who cling to some version of the gold standard. They actually do believe that when you “take the note to the central bank,” you will get “something” in exchange. It’s not an easy idea to give up. It’s not unlike the vertiginous feeling that is engendered by realizing that language is not “backed” by anything. We are familiar with solutions to this problem. Create a physical object that can be used as a reference for a word, a definition, a standard, etc.

I pasted the above a week ago and set it aside. It made me laugh. I had that "vertiginous feeling" a long, time ago, but I wanted to put this to good use.

Leiter just posted "Realism About Precedent" to SSRN 

In jurisdictions with a doctrine of precedent (or stare decisis), later courts are supposed to be bound by the decisions (the ratio or holding) of earlier courts, either those above them in a chain of authority (vertical precedent) or their own earlier decisions (horizontal precedent, where the later incarnation of the same court usually retains the option of overruling its earlier decision). The later court, in either the vertical or horizontal cases, is bound only by those decisions which are “on point” or “the same in relevant respects” to the case currently before the court. Since cases are never identical in all particulars, this always requires figuring out which general categories that subsume the particulars of different cases are the relevant ones: I will call this “relevant similarity” in what follows. Relevant similarity is typically assessed in light of either the reasons the earlier court actually gave for the decision or the reasons that can be imputed to the earlier court based on the legal decision that court reached. Analogical reasoning figures crucially in ascertaining whether an earlier case that might be precedent is, in fact, “relevantly similar.” Indeed, there is no doctrine of precedent without analogical reasoning, since in any jurisdiction with a doctrine of stare decisis, any earlier decision by a court is a possible precedent for a later court considering the same legal question, and any earlier decision considering the same legal question is potentially distinguishable as involving facts that are not “relevantly similar.” Uncontroversial judgments of relevant similarity deal with most of the former cases. 

Leiter pretends to be an observer, not a player; he thinks his arguments are "backed" by something more than pedantry. Using his own definition, trial lawyers are the only legal realists. 

My only real comment on Morozov is from 2013, but his name's come up a few times. I'll give him a tag

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