30 years after the nobel: James Buchanan’s political philosophy
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature. There are three main foundations of Public Choice theory: methodological individualism, behavioral symmetry, and “politics as exchange.” The first two are represented in nearly all work that identifies as “Public Choice,” but politics as exchange is often forgotten or de-emphasized. This paper—adapted from a lecture given on the occasion of the 30th year after Buchanan’s Nobel Prize—fleshes out Buchanan’s theory of politics as exchange, using four notions that are uniquely central to his thought: philosophical anarchism, ethical neutrality, subjectivism, and the “relatively absolute absolutes.” A central tension in Buchanan’s work is identified, in which he seems simultaneously to argue both that nearly anything agreed to by a group could be enforced within the group as a contract, and that there are certain types of rules and arrangements, generated by decentralized processes, that serve human needs better than state action. It is argued that it is a mistake to try to reconcile this tension, and that both parts of the argument are important.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1007/s11138-018-0418-3
Publication InfoMunger, MC (2018). 30 years after the nobel: James Buchanan’s political philosophy. The Review of Austrian Economics, 31(2). pp. 151-167. 10.1007/s11138-018-0418-3. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/17612.
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Professor of Political Science
Professor of Political Science, and Director of the PPE Certificate Program. His primary research focus is on the functioning of markets, regulation, and government institutions. He has taught at Dartmouth College, University of Texas, and University of North Carolina (where he was Director of the Master of Public Administration Program), as well as working as a staff economist at the Federal Trade Commission during the Reagan Administration. He is a past President of the Public Choice Society,