Program Description: “Competition” is a fact of life and a foundational idea for much of modern science, from biology to economics to political science. In its most elementary sense, it means rivalry with respect to scarce resources—territory, sexual partners, private goods, voters, political power, football championships. We associate competition with important virtues: industry and effort, discovery and innovation, efficient resource allocation.
Upon inspection, however, competition turns out to be a rather complicated affair. Competition in economics or politics presupposes a great deal of cooperative behavior, as well as a reliable legal and institutional framework. Competition must be organized in some fashion. How and by whom is the organizing to be done—and to precisely what ends? Moreover, in some areas of human endeavor, it is quite hard to demonstrate that competition will in fact be conducive to some shared objective such as truth, cultural progress, or public-regarding government. Competition may well be the best way to organize these social domains, but the case is not entirely obvious.
The Transatlantic Law Forum’s 2014 Annual Conference will explore the full range of these questions. Prominent legal scholars, economists, and political scientists from the United States and Europe will examine the role of competition in economics, law, religion, and politics.
The Transatlantic Law Forum (TLF) is a joint project of the Law & Economics Center at George Mason University School of Law and the Council on Public Policy. Its objective is to foster a transatlantic dialogue on salient questions of law and public policy. The TLF’s annual conferences alternate between Bucerius Law School (Hamburg) and GMU School of Law (Arlington, Virginia). Past conference topics have ranged from “The Business of Law” to “Citizenship” to last year’s examination of “The Financial Crisis and the Rule of Law.”