This week, Roberts returned to a political-economy topic, law, with guest Barry Weingast of Stanford.

Use the prompts below to spark a conversation.

Check Your Knowledge:

1. What are the various components of law Weingast enumerates, and which are the most significant in providing stability?

2. How do Weingast and Roberts distinguish between social norms and law? How does Weingast describe “decentralized collective punishment?” What is the role of the “steward” in the creation and maintenance of law? Where do you fall with regard to enforcement and punishment?

Going Deeper:

3. Why do centralized systems predominate, despite evidence of emergent legal orders throughout history?

Extra Credit:

4. Toward the end of the episode (45:44), Roberts asks Weingast what he would do differently were he in charge of organizations trying to do good in very poor places. Evaluate the strength of Weingast’s response in relation to the views of William Easterly in this episode on “The Tyranny of Experts.”

5. Is Weingast more or less sanguine about the potential for violence in political regimes in this episode or in the 2013 episode he recorded with Roberts on “the violence trap.” To what extent is violence ever a necessary evil? Explain.