Working Paper No. 03-44:
The Rise And Fall Of Communal Liability In Ancient Law

Author(s):

Francesco Parisi, Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci

Date Posted: 2003

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Abstract:

In ancient societies, rules of communal responsibility permitted the imposition of retaliatory sanctions on a wrongdoers clan. These rules followed the collective ownership structure of early communities. Over time, notions of personal responsibility emerged, terminating the transfer of responsibility from one member to the whole clan. This paper intends to provide an economic explanation for this transition.