Electronic Coins

Cryptoeconomic Systems 2 (1) (2022)
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In the bitcoin whitepaper, Satoshi Nakamoto (2008: 2) defines an electronic coin as a chain of digital signatures. Many have since defined a bitcoin as a chain of digital signatures. This latter definition continues to appear in reports from central banks, advocacy centers, and governments, as well as in academic papers across the disciplines of law, economics, computer science, cryptography, management, and philosophy. Some have even used it to argue that what we now call bitcoin is not the real bitcoin. The definition fails, however. This is important because the Chain Definition obscures Satoshi’s solution to a dilemma in the design of electronic cash, as well as the truth about bitcoin’s privacy and fungibility. In this article, I explain why the Chain Definition fails and what Satoshi likely endorsed instead. Along the way, I untangle some issues around bitcoin fungibility and clarify some others around the ontology of digital assets.



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Craig Warmke
Northern Illinois University

Citations of this work

On Bitcoin: A Study in Applied Metaphysics.Martin A. Lipman - 2023 - Philosophical Quarterly 73 (3):783-802.

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References found in this work

Epistemic Trespassing.Nathan Ballantyne - 2019 - Mind 128 (510):367-395.
How is Bitcoin Money?Ole Bjerg - 2016 - Theory, Culture and Society 33 (1):53-72.

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