Taleb on the Antifragility of “Judge-Based Law”

January 14th, 2013

The same bottom-up effect applies to law. The Italian political and legal philosopher Bruno Leoni has argued in favor of the robustness of judge-based law (owing to its diversity) as compared to explicit and rigid codifications. True, the choice of a court could be a lottery— but it helps prevent large-scale mistakes.

I use the example of Switzerland to show the natural antifragility of political systems and how stability is achieved by managing noise, having a mechanism for letting it run its natural course, not by minimizing it.

Note another element of Switzerland: it is perhaps the most successful country in history, yet it has traditionally had a very low level of university education compared to the rest of the rich nations. Its system, even in banking during my days, was based on apprenticeship models, nearly vocational rather than the theoretical ones. In other words, on techne (crafts and know how), not episteme (book knowledge, know what).

Taleb’s discussion mirrors what Hayek’s discussion in the Constitution of Liberty, Law, and Legislation, that the common law evolved as a method to protect individual liberty.

Once I’m done with this ACA case I really need to turn back to my work on Taleb, Hayek, and Federalism. I think it will be pretty cool.