Buchanan's Non-Coercive Economics for Self-Interested Individuals: Ethics, Small Groups, and the Social Contract

32 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2016

See all articles by Alain Marciano

Alain Marciano

Université de Montpellier; Université Montpellier I - Montpellier Recherche en Economie (Montpellier Research in Economics) MRE

Date Written: August 27, 2015

Abstract

Market failures, which are usually viewed as a consequence of self-interest, are also supposed to be a major justification for coercive state interventions. This was the view of, among others, Richard Musgrave and Paul Samuelson, but not of James Buchanan. The latter certainly admitted that individuals are self-interested, that markets fail to allocate resources efficiently, but did not believe in the need for coercion. In this paper, we show that, to Buchanan, coercion can be unnecessary if certain post-constitutional conditions are satisfied. We show that he believed that self-interested individuals voluntarily adopt pro-social behavior in small groups. Small groups or small numbers represent a post-constitutional alternative to the veil of ignorance.

Keywords: Buchanan, ethics, self-interest, coercion, groups (size), social contract

JEL Classification: B31, H23

Suggested Citation

Marciano, Alain, Buchanan's Non-Coercive Economics for Self-Interested Individuals: Ethics, Small Groups, and the Social Contract (August 27, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2708634 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2708634

Alain Marciano (Contact Author)

Université de Montpellier ( email )

Avenue Raymond Dugrand, CS 79606
Montpellier Cedex 1, F-34000
France

Université Montpellier I - Montpellier Recherche en Economie (Montpellier Research in Economics) MRE ( email )

Montpellier
France

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