Tag Archives: property

The insidious reach of error

I have become deeply interested in the origins of money, which means reading the work of various historical anthropologists. As is often the case when reading other social scientists on matters of economic significance, one comes across a fair bit of economist envy. Compared to other social science academics (and, for that matter, humanities academics), […]

The taxman cometh (but only for what he can see)

There have been two great transformations in human affairs. One is the Neolithic Revolution, the transition from foraging to farming. This is a transformation which is still going on, as there are still some foraging groups around the planet (though it is a vanishing way of life). The second is the Industrial Revolution, the shift […]

Henrietta Lacks and property in body parts

I have just finished reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2010). It raises all kinds of social, ethical, scientific and legal issues. I thought I’d explore them in this post. I don’t intend to offer any firm conclusions, but I would like to generate discussion about the kinds of conflicts medical […]

Dishonesty, looting and theft

This post is inspired by a comment of Dave Bath’s on DEM’s cartoon about the London riots. Dave said: Well, the looters of the City did worse damage, and government bent over backwards to (a) not remove moral hazard (b) not punish but pay to clean the mess. If the rioters were wearing white collars […]

Online animals and the law

For people who haven’t experienced online virtual worlds, no doubt they sound like a pretty weird thing. Although if you’re reading this post, you’re probably more than usually open to the idea of online communities in the first place – what is a blog but an online discussion point? Nonetheless, I don’t think I could […]