James M. Buchanan and the Public Choice Tradition

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See all articles by Art Carden

Art Carden

Brock School of Business, Samford University; Independent Institute

Audrey Redford

Western Carolina University - College of Business

M. Scott King

George Mason University, Department of Economics, Students

James Hanley

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: December 28, 2020

Abstract

James M. Buchanan thought big. He dedicated his career to the study of fundamental issues, and he wrote for the ages. He changed how we think about economic and political theory. Many of his most radical insights are now part of the mainstream orthodoxy in economics and increasingly influential in political science. He was an abstract thinker who used simplified models to isolate and understand basic principles. This is not to say he was a thinker removed from actual issues in the real world. Far from it: in fact, his conviction that most of the models economists use do not describe the real world as he observed it inspired him to dig deeper into the theory of public finance. Buchanan asked, quite simply, “what conclusions do we draw if we make the same assumptions about people’s political behavior that we make about their commercial behavior?” It yielded a series of pathbreaking insights that changed how scholars understand political processes. In this paper, we discuss Buchanan's role as economist, political theorist, and social philosopher as well as review some of his major contributions in the economics discipline.

Keywords: B31,

Suggested Citation

Carden, Art and Redford, Audrey and King, M. Scott and Hanley, James, James M. Buchanan and the Public Choice Tradition (December 28, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

Art Carden

Brock School of Business, Samford University ( email )

800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229
United States

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

Independent Institute ( email )

100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621-1428
United States

Audrey Redford (Contact Author)

Western Carolina University - College of Business ( email )

United States

M. Scott King

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

Fairfax, VA
United States

James Hanley

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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