James M. Buchanan's Constrained Vision in Cost and Choice

Journal of Private Enterprise

24 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2020 Last revised: 6 Aug 2021

See all articles by Art Carden

Art Carden

Brock School of Business, Samford University

M. Scott King

George Mason University, Department of Economics, Students

Audrey Redford

Western Carolina University - College of Business

James Hanley

Independent

Date Written: July 16, 2021

Abstract

James M. Buchanan’s 1969 book Cost and Choice speaks directly to the socialist calculation debate from the perspective of the “London Tradition” in the theory of cost. More than this, however, it places Buchanan alongside Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman as an exemplar of what Thomas Sowell called “the constrained vision” in his 1987 [2007] book A Conflict of Visions. This essay explores Buchanan’s radical subjectivism in Cost and Choice, why it aligns him with Sowell’s “constrained vision,” and what this implies about Buchanan’s place within political theory generally. His radically subjectivist analysis of cost underlies his constitutional liberalism, and it obviates a more activist, interventionist political agenda.

Keywords: Cost, subjectivism, Buchanan, social theory, classical liberalism, choice, London School of Economics, Austrian Economics

JEL Classification: A12, B25, B31, H11

Suggested Citation

Carden, Art and King, M. Scott and Redford, Audrey and Hanley, James, James M. Buchanan's Constrained Vision in Cost and Choice (July 16, 2021). Journal of Private Enterprise, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3723111 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3723111

Art Carden

Brock School of Business, Samford University ( email )

800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.artcarden.com

M. Scott King

George Mason University, Department of Economics, Students ( email )

Fairfax, VA
United States

Audrey Redford (Contact Author)

Western Carolina University - College of Business ( email )

United States

James Hanley

Independent ( email )

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