The Irony of the Calculus of Consent: Diaspora for a Budding Research Program

31 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2013

See all articles by Richard E. Wagner

Richard E. Wagner

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 1, 2013


This paper is for presentation at a program on the dismemberment of the economics program at the University of Virginia in the mid-1960s. It is a literary flying buttress to “Virginia Political Economy, Rationally Reconstructed.” Where the earlier paper mostly looks forward from 1963, this paper mostly looks backward. In a “Secret Report” that David Levy and Sandra Peart have discovered, a unique Virginia school of political economy was identified as having formed by 1962. Soon thereafter it experienced a diaspora set in motion by the higher administration of the University of Virginia. With respect to this diaspora, The Calculus of Consent might seem to entail an irony to the extent that a constitutional theory predicated on consensus lacks some of the tools necessary for its own continuation. In other words, and as a piece of revisionist history, the fate of the Charlottesville program might have been different had The Calculus of Consent incorporated into its constitutional framework themes from Carl Schmitt’s treatment of the political.

Keywords: The Calculus of Consent, Virginia Political Economy, methodology of scientific research programs, Progressivism vs. liberalism, Carl Schmitt vs. F. A. Hayek

JEL Classification: B25, D78, E42, H11, P16

Suggested Citation

Wagner, Richard E., The Irony of the Calculus of Consent: Diaspora for a Budding Research Program (June 1, 2013). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 13-12. Available at SSRN: or

Richard E. Wagner (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

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