Chapter 9: Playing by the Generality Rule
9.1 SOME PRELIMINARIES This chapter deploys the Kantian/Rawlsian contractarian idea of the moral equivalence of persons in the normative appraisal of conﬂictual or day-to-day politics. The enterprise is informed, without further justiﬁcatory argument, by the following ideas: First, the moral equivalence of persons implies an institutional imperative. The essential ideas are that the agency, independence, self-determination and dignity of the individual demands that rights be accorded lexical priority, and that just in the sense of impartial institutions be promoted. Inter alia, this means that persons must be accorded the greatest possible equal liberty under and by constitutional and statutory law, and that the constitution – the rules of the game of post-constitutional or conﬂictual politics – embody a generality or impartiality constraint. Second, the argument takes as given that democratic politics is associated with majority rule, and that majoritarian cycling and resource-wasting rent seeking are deﬁning characteristics of observable reality. Third, given the indeterminacy of the efﬁciency frontier and the logical, empirical and ontological problems associated with the social welfare function I reject a priori any rationale for ‘government intervention’ motivated by the ﬁrst and second fundamental welfare theorems. While the analysis is animated, in part, by the Buchanan–Congleton (1998) emphasis on political efﬁciency, there are substantive differences. First, whereas Buchanan and Congleton emphasize that the political efﬁciency gains associated with a constitutionally-embedded generality constraint would likely exceed any allocative efﬁciency losses, I regard the Paretian efﬁciency standard as indeterminate. Granting this,...
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