Values, Markets and the State
Edited by Geoffrey Brennan and Giuseppe Eusepi
Chapter 1: Ethics and the Extent of the Market
James M. Buchanan As a young public finance economist, I was early on dismayed at the absence of any model of politics, either positively or normatively used, in familiar treatment of the basic fiscal variables: taxes, expenditure, budgets and public debts. In part influenced by De Viti de Marco (1936), whose treatise was the only book from a whole tradition of Italian scholarship that was translated into English, my own first paper (1949), was little more than a simple admonition to my fellow economists – a call for them to signify what model of politics, or collective action, they presupposed in their analyses. This initial effort was followed by my negative reactions to the whole midcentury discussion centered around the Arrow–Black rediscovery of the majoritarian cycle – a discussion that seemed to reflect a generalized disappointment that majority voting could not generate a social welfare function. Although I voiced my concerns in two 1954 papers, it was only my more extended exposure to the Italian scholarship with a year spent largely in Rome that brought me to a full realization of how the Hegelian and the utilitarian mindsets had permeated English-language social science. Without the Italian year, I could never have quite faced up to the analysis of politics without some vestige of the romantic delusion of the benevolent state. Both public choice, as a research umbrella, and constitutional economics, as a subsidiary program, can be classified to fall within a tradition of political realism that was and is standard fare...
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