Robust Political Economy
Show Less

Robust Political Economy

Classical Liberalism and the Future of Public Policy

Mark Pennington

This important book offers a comprehensive defence of classical liberalism against contemporary challenges. It sets out an analytical framework of ‘robust political economy’ that explores the economic and political problems that arise from the phenomena of imperfect knowledge and imperfect incentives.
Buy Book in Print
Show Summary Details
You do not have access to this content

Chapter 9: Conclusion

Mark Pennington


Intellectual battle-lines in political economy are focused today, as ever, on determining the boundaries between the sphere of individual liberty and the coercive power of the state. Classical liberalism as it has been understood throughout this book bases its case for a movement ‘towards the minimal state’ on the principles of robust political economy. It suggests that given limited rationality and the need to constrain the behaviour of those motivated by self-interest, a framework that allows for decentralised experimentation and which holds people accountable for their experiments in living is more likely to promote socio-economic progress than one that centralises power in a coercive authority, democratically elected or otherwise. At the time of completion in 2010, however, the pendulum of opinion appears to have swung decisively in the direction of a more state-centric approach. From responses to the financial crisis to concerns over income inequality and environmental protection, the notion that state power can deliver what liberty cannot is once again widely shared. Ideas matter in political economy, and for good or for ill, changes in the climate of opinion affect the direction of institutional change. The case for classical liberalism is held by critics to depend on the fanciful assumptions about human rationality that underlie the ‘efficient markets’ hypothesis of neo-classical economics. Classical liberals are widely thought to hold an asocial conception of the individual which has little or no appreciation for the communal identifications that shape human lives. And finally, classical liberalism is considered to be oblivious to...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information

or login to access all content.