James Buchanan and Contractarian Anarchy

Journal of Prices & Markets 2(2) 2014: 48-58

16 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2013 Last revised: 16 Aug 2014

See all articles by Alexander William Salter

Alexander William Salter

Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business; American Institute for Economic Research

Date Written: September 11, 2013

Abstract

This paper traces the normative side of James Buchanan’s individualist-subjectivist-contractarian position. The literature on anarchy and radical self-governance treats Buchanan’s position, and social contract theory more generally, as a rival rather than allied branch of analysis. However, I argue that Buchanan’s normative position, if taken to its logical conclusion, yields conclusions commensurate with anarchy. Buchanan’s theory of individual sovereignty suggests that political action is justified only to the extent that it adheres to a social contract that meets the requirements of conceptual unanimity. It also suggests individuals have the right to secede from communities they feel no longer adhere to the social contract. These beliefs form the foundation of a social contract theory deserving the label "anarchic."

Keywords: anarchy, Buchanan, federalism, individualism, secession, self-governance, social contract, sovereignty

JEL Classification: H1, H77, P16

Suggested Citation

Salter, Alexander William, James Buchanan and Contractarian Anarchy (September 11, 2013). Journal of Prices & Markets 2(2) 2014: 48-58. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2324373 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2324373

Alexander William Salter (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business ( email )

Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

HOME PAGE: http://awsalter.com

American Institute for Economic Research

PO Box 1000
Great Barrington, MA 01230
United States

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