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Ordeals: an economic vindication of ancient Indian “nonsense”

  • Harald Wiese (a1)


Ordeals (by fire, by water, etc.) are a judicial institution in which defendants try to prove their innocence by divine judgement. In a recent law and economics paper, Leeson (2012) suggests that (medieval) ordeals “work” because, and if, ordeal takers have sufficient belief in them and because the priests administering ordeals “manipulate” them in an appropriate manner. We find that Leeson's theory also helps us understand Indian ordeals. Interestingly, some dharma texts require that the accuser agrees to the ordeal too, a requirement absent in Leeson's theory. We extend Leesons's model accordingly.


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Ordeals: an economic vindication of ancient Indian “nonsense”

  • Harald Wiese (a1)


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