Political Failure by Agreement

Political Failure by Agreement

Learning Liberalism and the Welfare State

New Thinking in Political Economy series

Gerhard Wegner

The purpose of this book is to reconsider economic liberalism from the viewpoint of political liberalism. The author argues that advocates of economic liberalism largely overlook empirical political preferences which, in many societies, go far beyond a limited role of the state. Recent difficulties of reforming the welfare state provide evidence that political preferences are at odds with liberal economic policy in numerous cases. This fact challenges a political conception which demands a limited state role but also claims that citizens’ preferences ‘as they are’ should determine the content of policies. Using an evolutionary perspective on economic liberalism, the book develops new arguments about how economic liberalism can be brought into line with political liberalism.

Preface

Gerhard Wegner

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, public choice theory, welfare economics, politics and public policy, political economy, public choice, social policy and sociology, welfare states

Extract

The following book makes an attempt to rethink economic liberalism from the perspective of political liberalism. It thus contributes to contemporary liberal thought and deals with an issue which lies between economics and political theory. The main parts of the book were written during my oneyear research stay as a fellow at the interdisciplinary Max Weber Institute in Erfurt where I met with colleagues from sociology, political science, history, religious studies and philosophy. I am indebted to the Max Weber Institute and its director, Professor Hans Joas, for having this opportunity as well as for the stimulating atmosphere at the Institute. Chapters of this book have been presented to several workshops and conferences, among them research workshops at George Mason University, Fairfax (Virginia, US), Freiburg University (Germany), Andrassy University, Budapest (Hungary), the economics department at Kassel University (Germany), and the workshop on Contemporary Issues of Evolutionary Economics, St Gallen (Switzerland). For discussions and comments I owe thanks to Peter Boettke, Winfried Brugger, Kurt Dopfer, Wolfram Elsner, Gangolf Hübinger, Daniel Klein, Marco LehmannWaffenschmidt, Peter Leeson, Stefan Okruch, Stephan Panther, Reinhard Penz, Ingo Pies, Ringa Raudla, Wolfgang Reinhard, Viktor Vanberg, Richard Wagner, Ulrich Witt and Michael Wohlgemuth. I am indebted to Wolfgang Kerber, Pavel Pelikan, Helge Peukert and Sebastian Schäfer who read the whole manuscript and made numerous comments and suggestions. Discussions with Michael Schefczyk were very helpful in taking account of philosophical aspects which are relevant to a theme which transgresses the boundary between economics and political theory....