16th International Vernon Smith Prize

ECAEF announces the topic for this year’s XVI. International Vernon Smith Prize:

The Rule of Law. It’s Meaning and Purpose

Call for papers!

It is feasible that during the long reception of Roman Law, the legal term ‘Nomos’ was deficiently translated by ‘Lex’ instead of ‘Jus’ and thus led to a semantic trap quite similar to the replacement of ‘the Rule of Law’ by that of ‘a rule of law’ in modern democracies. While the latter is used to designate some particular legal directives (e.g., pay taxes at a certain time), the Rule of Law refers to Nomos, the entire body of law and its institutions. As a venerable ideal of our political morality, it shaped the continental concept of the ‘Rechtsstaat’. The Rule of Law or more accurate, Government under the Law is a safeguard of individual liberty, meaning that the state has no other power over private citizens than that which is necessary to secure general legal statutes, equally applicable to all. In other words, the Rule of Law determines the attributes that ideally law should have and thus can take on a number of denotations ranging from those which depict the law as a means for the protection of legitimate individual rights to those which depict it as an efficient and socially beneficial means of institutional control. However, this means neither that the state is restricted to enforcing the law nor that the state is restricted in its other activities by statutory provisions. Although the statutes necessary for running the state, as well as the parliamentarian authorizations to the state, are also called ‘laws’ in everyday parlance, they are by their nature quite different from the Rule of Law that applies to all citizens, legislatures and government agencies. Because the Rule of Law relates to actions that affect others, it can be compared to the rules of a game, which do not prohibit what is allowed to someone else under the same conditions. Are we still under the Rule of Law or are we pushed around by the law of rules?

First Prize -> EUR 4.000
Second Prize -> EUR 3.000
Third Prize -> EUR 2.000

All entries must meet the following five requirements:

  1. Entries may be submitted by individuals of up to 30 years (in 2023) and must be received on or before November 20, 2023.
  2. Entries may not exceed 10 pages, including a full bibliography and a 1/2 page abstract; 1.5 spacing; left/right margins no less than 1 inch.
  3. No entry may be generated by ChatGPT or other AI applications. Any use of an AI bot to fully or partly create a contending essay will be considered in breach of the academic plagiarism policy. Along with their entry, participants must add their signed pledge to refrain from any such support.
  4. Entries must be submitted in English in electronic form (PDF) to krl@ecaef.li and must include a current CV with the date of birth and their signed pledge of not having used any AI bot for the creation of the submitted essay.
  5. Prizes are not transferable. An international jury will judge essays on the basis of originality, grasp of subject and the logical consistency of the argument. Winners will be invited to present their papers at a special event in Vaduz (Principality of Liechtenstein) on February 12, 2024. Their presence is mandatory. 

Waiting for your essays. Good luck!

The International Vernon Smith Prize has been established in 2008 by ECAEF for the advancement of Austrian Economics. It is named after Professor Vernon Lomax Smith (born in 1927). He is professor of economics at Chapman University’s Argyros School of Business and Economics and School of Law in Orange, California, a research scholar at George Mason University Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, and a Fellow of the Mercatus Center, all in Arlington, Virginia. Smith shared the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Daniel Kahneman. He is also the founder and president of the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics, a Member of the Board of Advisors for The Independent Institute, and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington D.C.

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