What Should Classical Liberal Political Economists Do?
Peter J. Boettke
George Mason University - Department of Economics
November 12, 2013
GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 13-36
In 1964 James Buchanan famously asked “What Should Economists Do?” He argued that economists should focus their intellectual attention on exchange and the institutions within which exchange takes place. This paper reflects on Buchanan’s message and looks at the development of that argument, and its implications in the wake of post-socialist political economy on the one hand, and the post-financial crisis of 2008 on the other. Following Buchanan, the paper argues that classical liberal political economists must embrace the intellectual and practical challenges of the day, and bring a robust theory of political economy to bear on questions of justice, questions of freedom and responsibility, and questions concerning the invisible hand and the appropriate institutional framework which results in peaceful social cooperation and productive specialization in a society of free and responsible individuals.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 15
Keywords: James Buchanan, Methodological Individualism, Spontaneous Order, Institutional Economics, Constitutional Political Economy
JEL Classification: B31, H11, P48
Date posted: November 15, 2013 ; Last revised: December 12, 2013