"Coasean" or "Coasian"?

A long-standing, crucial debate in law & economics is the accepted spelling when Ronald Coase's name is converted into an adjective (e.g., "Coasean bargain" or "Coasian bribe"). In case you were wondering, the latest tally in Westlaw's JLR reports:

"Coasean": 812 article references

"Coasian": 566 article references

This ratio of approximately 60%-40% appears to a basically stable equilibrium over time. In the past three years (since 2002), the tally is "Coasean" 187 and "Coasian" 111.

Both terms appear in 53 article references, usually (but not always, surprisingly enough) because the author uses one spelling but cites to an article using the alternative spelling.

chris (mail):
Why doesn't someone just ask Coase?
1.30.2006 8:32am
o' connuh j.:
Coasean surely.

Singapore. Singaporean.

Euterpe. Euterpean.
1.30.2006 8:35am
1.30.2006 8:38am
o' connuh j.:
Thrace. Thracian.

1.30.2006 8:40am
o' connuh j.:
On further reflection, we have:

Circe, Circean. Cicerone, Ciceronean. Europe, European. Antipode, Antipodean.

And finally - Boole, Boolean.

That should settle it.
1.30.2006 9:00am
Cornellian (mail):
I'm surprised this critical issue didn't come up at the Alito hearings. How can we put someone on the Supreme Court without knowing his position on this issue?
1.30.2006 9:36am
Cornellian (mail):
And as a further guide for employing this issue at the Alito hearings:

Original intent: How did Coase spell it?
Original understanding: How did Coase's buddies at U.Chicago spell it? (not the public at large since they've never heard of the guy)
Textualist: Prefer the spelling that is closest to the original "Coase"
Instrumentalist (sometimes oversimplified as "liberal"): Prefer the spelling that is most likely to result in people pronouncing it properly
Majoritarian: Prefer the spelling that is more commonly used
1.30.2006 9:39am
carl s (mail):
Tough one. Coasean must be right, but it reads so wrong in English that I'm tempted to think that Coasian is better. They both look way too much like "cosine" for my tastes regardless. How about "Coseanic"?
1.30.2006 9:44am
Arthur (mail):
This critical issue calls for a googlefight.

Coasian 50,100 results
Coasean 23,500 results
1.30.2006 10:01am
Kieran (mail) (www):
Doesn't matter, really: both groups should be able to bargain their way toward a mutually satisfactory solution.
1.30.2006 10:09am
Thales (mail) (www):
A similar dispute exists in political philosophy over the correct adjectival spelling of John Locke's name--Lockean or Lockian?
1.30.2006 10:18am
Jeremy (mail) (www):
Nice to see that there's not a bit of truth to all these tales about academics wasting their time on pointless debates. ;-)
1.30.2006 10:23am
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Isn't the cheapest solution to allow both alternatives?
1.30.2006 10:33am
'Coasian' just looks wrong. QED.
1.30.2006 10:34am
Aeon J. Skoble (mail):
Not to jump down Thales' throat, but I've done an awful lot of research on Locke, and I have never seen "Lockian," always "Lockean." Similarly, Sartre --> Sartrean every time I've looked (although I'll admit I've done far less research on Sartre). I think the terminal "e" is the main thing here: Hume --> Humean (always, I've never seen it the other way, cf. Mill --> Millian; Hayek --> Hayekian). That tends to support Coase-->Coasean. But I'd be willing to let him decide!
1.30.2006 10:42am
VC Reader:
Considering that the suffixes "ean" and "ian" mean exactly the same thing and come from the exact same origins, it seems that which suffix one adds to Coase's name is a matter of personal preference.

From Merrian Webster:

Main Entry: -an
Variant(s): or -ian also -ean
Function: noun suffix
Etymology: -an &-ian from Middle English -an, -ian, from Old French &Latin; Old French -ien, from Latin -ianus, from -i- + -anus, from -anus, adjective suffix; -ean from such words as Mediterranean, European
1 : one that is of or relating to
2 : one skilled in or specializing in
1.30.2006 10:46am
nn (mail):
When I asked Ronald this question a few years ago, he said that he didn't really care.
1.30.2006 10:50am
Thales (mail) (www):
Lockean is indeed much more common than Lockian, but I have seen the latter in a few articles back in my undergrad days, especially, for some reason, with British or Australian authors.
1.30.2006 10:55am
The late John Hart Ely (I'm quoting from memory) said "I don't know if I get to choose, but I like 'Elysian.'"
1.30.2006 11:01am
an Asian:
"coasian" looks like "co-asian" to me, for what it's worth.

I prefer coasean.
1.30.2006 11:16am
Guest2 (mail):
"Coasian" is barbaric.
1.30.2006 11:20am
SK (mail):
Kieran wrote:

Doesn't matter, really: both groups should be able to bargain their way toward a mutually satisfactory solution.

In an ideal world perhaps, but in reality the transaction costs involved in getting several hundred law review editors to agree on anything are likely prohibitive.
1.30.2006 11:26am
Thales (mail) (www):
I think the solution in our costly-transactions real world is a Pigouvian tax on the negative externalities produced by either spelling. The one that yields the most benefits net of the tax is the efficient solution.
1.30.2006 11:36am
DJ (mail):
I went to U of C law school and, for what it's worth, never saw the word spelled "Coasean."
1.30.2006 11:41am
nn (mail):
Actually, if you've read Coase's remarks in interviews you know that he is disturbed by the term more than the spelling. He wrote his famous paper to caricature the overly common use of the zero transactions cost assumptions in neoclassical econ. He is bemused to see that his name is often associated with the "assertion" that the world is so pervaded with low tc bargains that Coasian trades are easy, when in fact they are often impeded by either natural or man-made transactions costs.
1.30.2006 12:22pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
When Coase won his Nobel he was asked how he felt about the honor. He reportedly answered that it didn't matter whom the Nobel committee selected because economists would negotiate amongst themselves and it would end up in the hands of the one who valued it most highly.

Okay, I made that up. Kieran had already beaten me to the punchline, but I just couldn't resist.
1.30.2006 2:44pm
Adam (mail):
Coase's The Firm, the Market, and the Law evidently spells it "Coasian." See Robert C. Ellickson, The Case for Coase and Against "Coaseanism", 99 YALE L.J. 611, 613 n.12 (1989). Ellickson claims that the "definitive analysis" is an article by Stewart Schwab in the Journal of Legal Studies, id. at 613 n.11, but that article isn't on Lexis.

Personally, I find "Coasian" to be an abomination.
1.30.2006 7:54pm
James Lindgren (mail):
Before reading the above comments, I checked The Firm, the Market, and the Law because I remembered Coase using the term there. On p. 174, Coase writes:

The world of zero transaction costs has often been described as a Coasian world. Nothing could be further from the truth.

On the other hand, I searched Lexis for law journal articles in which Coase was acknowleged in the author's note, presumably for reading the manuscript. Those favored "Coasean."
1.31.2006 4:36pm