August 11, 2022

Guerra-Pujol on Coase and the Corleones

F. E. Guerra-Pujol, Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, is publishing Coase and the Corleones in The Godfather and Philosophy: We’re Gonna Make‘em an Argument They Can’t Refute (Joshua Heter and Richard Greene, eds., Open Court, 2023). Here is the abstract.
My contribution to the new volume on The Godfather and Philosophy will explore the problem of reciprocal harms in the context of the famous wedding scene in the original Godfather movie. By way of background, one of the most influential ideas in legal, moral, and political philosophy is the harm principle or the notion that people should be free to do or say whatever they wish unless their actions or words cause harm to somebody else. The Godfather, however, shows us why the harm principle is logically incoherent. Aside from the difficulty of defining what counts as a harm, the main problem with the harm principle is that harms are often reciprocal in nature, a counterintuitive idea that can be traced back to the work of Ronald Coase. That is, most harms are, logically speaking, either the direct or indirect result of both the wrongdoer’s and the victim’s decisions. (This short paper is part of a larger series of works that I have written over the years using examples from popular culture to illustrate the problem of reciprocal harms.)
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

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