Going Far By Going Together: James M. Buchanan’s Economics of Shared Ethics
26 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2019 Last revised: 15 May 2021
Date Written: May 13, 2021
We explore themes in Nobel Prize-winning economist James M. Buchanan’s work and apply his Ethics and Economic Progress to problems facing individuals and firms. We focus on Buchanan’s analysis of the individual work ethic, his exhortations to “pay the preacher” of the “institutions of moral-ethical communication”, and his notion of law as “public capital.” We highlight several ways people with other-regarding preferences can contribute to social flourishing and some of the ways those who have “affected to trade for the public good” might want to redirect their efforts. We show how Buchanan’s work has considerable implications for business ethics. Just as his economic analysis of politics changed how we understand government, we think his economic analysis of ethics can (and should) change how we understand business.
Keywords: James M. Buchanan, Economics, Public Choice, Business Ethics, Norms & Values
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