Bart Wilson @ Chapman University



Working Papers
Blog Posts




The Property Species: Mine, Yours, and the Human Mind, Oxford University Press, August 1, 2020.

What is property, and why does our species have it?  In The Property Species, I explore how humans acquire, perceive, and know the custom of property, and why this might be relevant to understanding how property works in the twenty-first century. 

Arguing that neither the sciences nor the humanities synthesizes a full account of property, the book offers a cross-disciplinary compromise that is sure to be controversial: Property is a universal and uniquely human custom. Integrating cognitive linguistics with philosophy of property and a fresh look at property disputes in the common law, the book makes the case that symbolic-thinking humans locate the meaning of property within a thing. That is, all human beings and only human beings have property in things, and at its core, property rests on custom, not rights. Such an alternative to conventional thinking contends that the origins of property lie not in food, mates, territory, or land, but in the very human act of creating, with symbolic thought, something new that did not previously exist.

Written by an economist who marvels at the natural history of humankind, the book is essential reading for experts and any reader who has wondered why people claim things as “Mine!”, and what that means for our humanity.


"This book is a tour de force and will surely be a landmark in thought. The way Wilson weaves together law and economics, psychology and history, experiment and theory, to make a fresh argument about a very old subject is remarkable. It's a worthy successor to Locke."

--Matt Ridley, author of The Evolution of Everything

"Bart Wilson explores how human customs differentiate between 'mine' and 'thine.' Through this lens, The Property Species will hone the way economists, lawyers, and philosophers understand human action in all social and political contexts, past and present."

--Terry L. Anderson, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

Podcast Interviews

  • The Governance Podcast with Irena Schneider: The Meaning of Property in Things, October 15, 2018 (Apple, Spotify, Podbean)


Humanomics: Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations for the Twenty-First Century, with Vernon L. Smith, Cambridge University Press, 2019.

While neoclassical analysis works well for studying impersonal exchange in markets, it fails to explain why people conduct themselves the way they do in their personal relationships with family, neighbors, and friends. In Humanomics, we bring our study of economics full circle by returning to the founder of modern economics, Adam Smith.  Sometime in the last 250 years, economists lost sight of the full range of human feeling, thinking, and knowing in everyday life.  We show how Adam Smith’s model of sociality can re-humanize twenty-first century economics by undergirding it with sentiments, fellow feeling, and a sense of propriety—the stuff of which human relationships are built. Integrating insights from The Theory of Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations into contemporary empirical analysis, this book shapes economic betterment as a science of human beings.

*2019 Best Book Award by the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics



“A Simple, Ecologically Rational Rule for Settling Found Property Disputes,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 178, October 2020.

“Becoming Just by Eliminating Injustice: The Emergence of Property in Virtual Economies” in Justice, Mark LeBar (Ed.), Oxford University Press, 2018.

“The Welfare Effects of Civil Forfeiture,” Review of Behavioral Economics, 4(2), September 2017, with Michael Preciado. A video demonstration of the software is available here.

“Further Towards a Theory of the Emergence of Property,” Public Choice, 163(1-2), April 2015.

“An Experiment on Protecting Intellectual Property,” Experimental  Economics, 17(4), December 2014, with Joy Buchanan. A video demonstration of the software is available here.

“Insiders, Outsiders, and the Adaptability of Informal Rules to Ecological Shocks,” Ecological Economics, 90, June 2013, with Erik O. Kimbrough.

“Go West Young Man: Self-selection and Endogenous Property Rights,” Southern Economic Journal, 79(4), April 2013, with Taylor Jaworski.

“The Ecological and Civil Mainsprings of Property: An Experimental Economic History of Whalers’ Rules of Capture,” Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 28(4), October 2012, with Taylor Jaworski, Karl Schurter, and Andrew Smyth. Awarded the 2012 Oliver E. Williamson prize for best article for all papers accepted in 2011. A video demonstration of the software is available here.

“The Territorial Foundations of Human Property,” Evolution and Human Behavior, 32(5), September 2011, with Peter DeScioli. (Lead Article)

“Exchange, Theft, and the Social Formation of Property,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 74(3), June 2010, with Erik O. Kimbrough and Vernon L. Smith.

Adam Smith in 21st Century

“A Theory of Sociality, Morality, and Monsters: Adam Smith and Mary Shelley,” Adam Smith Review, forthcoming, with Jan Osborn, Mitchell Briggs, Alison Lee, and Alec Moss.

“Equilibrium Play in Voluntary Ultimatum Games: Beneficence Cannot Be Exhorted,” Games and Economic Behavior, 109, May 2018,  with Vernon L. Smith.

“Sentiments, Conduct, and Trust in the Laboratory,” Social Philosophy and Policy, 34(1), July  2017, with Vernon L. Smith.

“Conduct in Narrativized Trust Games,” Southern Economic Journal, 81(3), January 2015, with Jan Osborn and Bradley R. Sherwood.

“Fair and Impartial Spectators in Experimental Economic Behavior,” Review of Behavioral Economics, 1(1), January 2014, with Vernon L. Smith. (Lead article)

“Discovering Economics in the Classroom with Experimental Economics and the Scottish Enlightenment,” International Review of Economics Education, 9(2), November 2010, with Taylor Jaworski and Vernon L. Smith.

Political Economy in the Laboratory

“No Mere Tautology: The Division of Labour is Limited by the Division of Labour,” Oxford Economic Papers, forthcoming, with Andrew Smyth.

“Experimental Tests of the Tolerated Theft and Risk-Reduction Theories of Resource Exchange,” Nature Human Behaviour, 2(6), June 2018, with Hillard S. Kaplan, Eric Schniter, and Vernon L. Smith.

“Language and Cooperation in Hominin Scavenging,” Evolution and Human Behavior, 38(3), May 2017, with Samuel R. Harris. A video demonstration of the software is also available here.

“Violence, Access, and Competition in the Market for Protection,” European Journal of Political Economy, 29(1), March 2013, with Douglas B. Rogers and Adam C. Smith. (Lead article)

“The Primacy of Entrepreneurs in Exploiting Long-Distance Exchange,” Managerial and Decision Economics, 33(5), July-September 2012, with Erik O. Kimbrough.

“Risk and the Evolution of Human Exchange,” Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 270(1740), 7 August 2012, with Hillard Kaplan, Eric Schniter, and Vernon L. Smith.

“Anarchy, Groups, and Conflict: An Experiment on the Emergence of Protective Associations,” Social Choice and Welfare, 38(2), February 2012, with Adam C. Smith and David B. Skarbek.

“Geography and Social Networks in Nascent Distal Exchange,” Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, 167(3), September 2011, with Erik O. Kimbrough. (Lead Article)

“Exchange and Specialisation as a Discovery Process,” Economic Journal, 119, July  2009, with Sean Crockett and Vernon L. Smith.

“Historical Property Rights, Sociality, and the Emergence of Impersonal Exchange in Long-distance Trade,” American Economic Review, 98(3), June 2008, with Erik O. Kimbrough and Vernon L. Smith.  An appendix summarizing each economy is available here.

“An Experimental Investigation of Hobbesian Jungles,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 66(3), June 2008, with Benjamin Powell.

“Building a Market: From Personal to Impersonal Exchange,” in Moral Markets: The Critical Role of Values in the Economy, P. Zak (ed.), Princeton U Press, 2008, with Erik Kimbrough and Vernon L. Smith. 

Comparing Nonhuman and Human Primates

“Consistent Differences in a Virtual World Model of Ape Societies,” Scientific Reports, 10 (14075), August 2020, with Sarah Brosnan, Elizabeth Londsdorf, and Crickette Sanz.

“Capuchin Monkeys (Sapajus [Cebus] apella) Play Nash Equilibria, but their Decisions are not Likely Influenced by Oxytocin,” American Journal of Primatology, 81(4), April 2019, with Mackenzie F. Smith, Kelly Leverett, and Sarah F. Brosnan.

“Human and Monkey Responses in a Symmetric Game of Conflict with Asymmetric Equilibria,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 142, October 2017, with Sarah F. Brosnan, Sara A. Price, Kelly Leverett, Laurent Prιtτt, and Michael Beran.

“Differential Responding by Rhesus Monkeys (Macaca mulatta) and Humans (Homo sapiens) to Variable Outcomes in the Assurance Game,” Animal Behavior and Cognition, 1(3), August 2014, with Audrey E. Parrish, Sarah F. Brosnan, and Michael J. Beran. (Lead article)

“Comparative Approaches to Studying Strategy: Towards an Evolutionary Account of Primate Decision Making,” Evolutionary Psychology, 11(3), July  2013, with Sarah F. Brosnan, Michael J. Beran, Audrey E. Parrish, and Sara A. Price.

“Old World Monkeys are More Similar to Humans than New World Monkeys When Playing a Coordination Game,” Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279(1733), 22 April 2012, Published ahead of print 9 November 2011, with Sarah F. Brosnan and Michael J. Beran.

“Responses to the Assurance Game in Monkeys, Apes, and Humans Using Equivalent Procedures,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, February 7, 2011 Early Edition, with Sarah F. Brosnan, Audrey Parrish, Michael J. Beran, Timothy Flemming, Lisa Heimbauer, Catherine Talbot, Susan P. Lambeth, and Steven J. Schapiro

Economics and the Humanities

“A Theory of Sociality, Morality, and Monsters: Adam Smith and Mary Shelley,” Adam Smith Review, forthcoming, with Jan Osborn, Mitchell Briggs, Alison Lee, and Alec Moss.

“Commerce Unbound: A Modern Promethean Story,” Annual Proceedings of the Wealth and Well-being of Nations, 9, 2017, with Jan Osborn and Gus P. Gradinger.

“The Clash of Aristocratic and Bourgeois Virtues in The Wire,” in Teaching The Wire: Frameworks, Theories and Strategies for the Classroom, Tia Gaynor and Jocelyn Taliaferro (Eds.), Mcfarland & Co, 2016, with Gus P. Gradinger.

“Humankind in Civilization's Extended Order: A Tragedy, The First Part,” Supreme Court Economic Review, 23(1), 2016.

Philosophy and Methodology of Economics

“How We Think about Economics,” Southern Economic Journal, 83(3), January 2017.

“The Meaning of Deceive in Experimental Economic Science,” in The Oxford Handbook of Professional Economic Ethics, George DeMartino and Deirdre McCloskey (eds.), Oxford University Press, 2016.

“Contra Private Fairness,” American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 71(2), April 2012.  Here's my ReasonTV interview on YouTube (7/30/2010).

“Social Preferences aren't Preferences,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 73(1), January 2010.

“Language Games of Reciprocity.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 68(2), November 2008.

Industrial Organization and Antitrust

“Auctions in Near Continuous Time,” Experimental Economics, 23(1), March 2020, with Cary A. Deck.

“Horizontal Product Differentiation in Auctions and Multilateral Negotiations,” Economica, 81(324), October 2014, with Charles J. Thomas.

“Using Experimental Economics to Understand Competition,” in Competition Policy And The Economic Approach: Foundations and Limitations, Josef Drexl and Rupprecht Podszun (eds.), Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011.

“More Information, More Ripoffs: Experiments with Public and Private Information in Markets with Asymmetric Information,” Review of Industrial Organization, 36(1), February 2010, with Arthur Zillante. (Lead Article)

“Experimental Gasoline Markets,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 68(1), July  2008, with Cary A. Deck.

“Fixed Revenue Auctions,” Economic Inquiry, 46(3), July  2008, with Cary A. Deck.

“Strategic Buyers, Horizontal Mergers and Synergies: An Experimental Investigation,” International Journal of Industrial Organization, 26(3), May 2008, with Douglas D. Davis.

“Second Chance Offers vs. Sequential Auctions: Theory and Behavior,” Economic Theory, 34(1), January 2008, with Timothy C. Salmon.

“Mixed Strategy Nash Equilibrium Predictions as a Means of Organizing Behavior in Posted-Offer Market Experiments,” in Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, C. Plott and V. L. Smith (eds.), Elsevier Science, 2008, with Douglas D. Davis.

“Experimental Economics and Antitrust: What Can We Learn from Laboratory Markets?” Antitrust, 21(2), Spring, 2007. (Invited by the editors.)

“Exclusionary Bundling and the Effects of a Competitive Fringe,” Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, 163, March 2007, with Anil Caliskan, David Porter, Stephen Rassenti, and Vernon L. Smith.

“Equilibrium Price Dispersion, Mergers and Synergies: An Experimental Investigation of Differentiated Product Competition,” International Journal of the Economics of Business, 13(2), July  2006, with Douglas D. Davis.

“Tracking Customer Search to Price Discriminate,” Economic Inquiry, 44(2), April 2006, with Cary A. Deck.

“Verifiable Offers and the Relationship Between Auctions and Multilateral Negotiations,” Economic Journal, 115, October 2005, with Charles J. Thomas.

“Auction Markets for Evaluations,” Southern Economic Journal, 72(1), July  2005, with Cary A. Deck.

“Market Power and Price Movements over the Business Cycle,” Journal of Industrial Economics, 53(2), June 2005, with Stanley Reynolds. (Lead Article)

“Differentiated Product Competition and the Antitrust Logit Model,”Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 57(1), May 2005, with Douglas D. Davis.

“Full Serve, No Choice,” New York Times, Op-Ed, October 3, 2004, with Thomas Firey.

“How Applicable is the Dominant Firm Model of Price Leadership?” Experimental  Economics, 7(3), October 2004, with Stephen J. Rassenti.

“Economics at the Pump,” Regulation, 27(1), Spring 2004, with Cary A. Deck.

“Cost Structures and Nash Play in Repeated Cournot Games,” Experimental  Economics, 6(2), October 2003, with Douglas D. Davis and Robert J. Reilly.

“Automated Pricing Rules in Electronic Posted Offer Markets,” Economic Inquiry, 41(2), April 2003, with Cary A. Deck.

“Bidding Strategies in Single-unit Auctions,” in Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, L. Nadel (ed.), Macmillan Publishers (Nature Publishing Group), 2003.

“The Effectiveness of Low Price Matching in Mitigating the Competitive Pressure of Low Friction Electronic Markets,” Electronic Commerce Research, 2(4), November 2002, with Cary A. Deck.

“A Comparison of Auctions and Multilateral Negotiations,” RAND Journal of Economics, 33(1), Spring, 2002, with Charles J. Thomas.

“Collusion in Procurement Auctions: An Experimental Examination,” Economic Inquiry, 40(2), April 2002, with Douglas D. Davis.

“Experimental Methods and Antitrust Policy,” in Research in Experimental Economics: Experiments Investigating Market Power, Vol. 9, R. M. Isaac and C. Holt (eds.), JAI (Elsevier Science), 2002, with Douglas D. Davis.

“Interactions of Automated Pricing Algorithms: An Experimental Investigation,”  Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce 2000 (EC-00), October 2000, with Cary A. Deck. 17% acceptance rate.

“Firm-Specific Cost Savings and Market Power,” Economic Theory, 16(3), November 2000, with Douglas D. Davis.  

“Bertrand-Edgeworth Competition, Demand Uncertainty, and Asymmetric Outcomes,”    Journal of Economic Theory, 92(1), May 2000, with Stanley S. Reynolds. 

“Design Comparisons for Procurement Systems,” SIGecom Exchanges, 1.1, Summer 2000, with Charles J. Thomas.

“What Collusion? Unilateral Market Power as a Catalyst for Countercyclical Markups,”    Experimental  Economics, 1(2), September 1998.

Miscellaneous Experimental Economics

“Smile, Dictator, You’re on Camera,” Southern Economic Journal, 84(1), July  2017, with Joy Buchanan, Matt McMahon, and Matthew Simpson. A video of the dictator decisions is available here.

“War of Attrition: Evidence from a Laboratory Experiment on Market Exit,” Economic Inquiry, 51(4), October 2013, Ryan Oprea and Arthur Zillante.

“An Experimental Analysis of the Demand for Payday Loans,” The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 10(1) (Topics), Article 93. DOI: 10.2202/1935-1682.2563, October 2010, with David W. Findlay, James W. Meehan Jr., Charissa Wellford, and Karl Schurter.

“Justice and Fairness in the Dictator Game,” Southern Economic Journal, 79(1), July  2009, with Karl Schurter.

“Incremental Approaches to Establishing Trust,” Experimental  Economics, 11(4), December 2008, with Robert Kurzban and Mary Rigdon.

“Raising Revenues for Charity: Auctions versus Lotteries,” in Research in Experimental Economics, Vol. 11, D.D. Davis and R. M. Isaac (eds.), JAI (Elsevier Science), 2006, with Douglas D. Davis, Laura Razzolini, and Robert Reilly. 

“Incremental Commitment and Reciprocity in a Real Time Public Goods Game,”   Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(12), December 2001, with Robert O.    Kurzban, Kevin McCabe, and Vernon L. Smith.

“Menu Costs and Nominal Price Friction: An Experimental Examination,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 35(3), April 1998. 

Electric Power Markets

“An Experimental Analysis of the Effects of Automated Mitigation Procedures on Investment and Prices in Wholesale Electricity Markets,”  Journal of Regulatory Economics, 31(3), June 2007, with Lynne Kiesling.

“Discriminatory Price Auctions in Electricity Markets,” Journal of Regulatory Economics, 23(2), March 2003, with Stephen J. Rassenti and Vernon L. Smith. (Lead Article.)

“Controlling Market Power and Price Spikes in Electricity Networks: Demand-Side Bidding,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(5), March 4, 2003, with Stephen J. Rassenti and Vernon L. Smith. (Cover article.)

“Using Experiments to Inform the Privatization/Deregulation Movement in Electricity,”    The Cato Journal, 21(3), Winter, 2002, with Stephen J. Rassenti and Vernon L. Smith.

“Turning Off the Lights,” Regulation, 24(3), Fall, 2001, with Stephen J. Rassenti and Vernon L. Smith.

“Structural Features that Contribute to Market Power in Electric Power Networks,”    Proceedings of the 33rd Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences, 2000,    with Stephen J. Rassenti and Vernon L. Smith. Received Best Paper Nomination.


“On Private Governance,” Review of Austrian Economics, 31(2), June 2018.

“Economics Works! Experiments in High School Classrooms,” Journal of Private Enterprise, 23(2), Spring, 2008, with Stephen L. Jackstadt and Paul Johnson.

“Teaching E-commerce through the Use of Real-time Interactive Laboratory Experiments,” International Journal of Information and Operations Management Education, 1(1), 2005, with Roumen Vragov.


This site was last updated 01/09/21.