Robust Against Whom?

Advances in Austrian Economics, Forthcoming

29 Pages Posted: 16 May 2018

See all articles by Nick Cowen

Nick Cowen

School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lincoln

Date Written: April 2, 2018


Robust Political Economy (RPE) is a research program that combines insights from Austrian economics and public choice to evaluate the performance of institutions in cases of limited knowledge and limited altruism, or “worst-case scenarios.” Many critics of RPE argue that it is too narrowly focused on the bad motivations and inadequacies of social actors while smuggling in classical liberal normative commitments as part of a purported solution to these problems. This paper takes a different tack by highlighting the ways that RPE as currently understood may not be robust enough to particularly bad conduct. It suggests that depending on the parameters of what constitutes a worst-case scenario, classical liberal institutions, especially a minimal state, may turn out to be less robust than some conservative or social democratic alternatives.

Keywords: robust political economy, public choice, tuism, altruism, deviance, delusion, perverse preferences

JEL Classification: B52, B53, P51

Suggested Citation

Cowen, Nick, Robust Against Whom? (April 2, 2018). Advances in Austrian Economics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Nick Cowen (Contact Author)

School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lincoln ( email )

Lincoln LN2
United Kingdom

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