The Reason of Rules / Edition 1

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In his foreword, Robert D. Tollison identifies the main objective of Geoffrey Brennan and James M. Buchanan’s The Reason of Rules: “. . . a book-length attempt to focus the energies of economists and other social analysts on the nature and function of the rules under which ordinary political life and market life function.”

In persuasive style, Brennan and Buchanan argue that too often economists become mired in explaining the obvious or constructing elaborate mathematical models to shed light on trivial phenomena. Their solution: economics as a discipline would be better focused on deriving normative procedures for establishing rules so that ordinary economic life can proceed unaffected as much as possible by social issues.

In The Reason of Rules, Brennan and Buchanan sketch out a methodological and analytical framework for the establishment of rules. They point out that the consideration of rules has its roots in classical economics and has been hinted at in the work of some contemporary economists. But the enterprise of applying the analytical rigor of modern economics to the establishment of effective rules is the little-traveled road that bears the most promise.

In fact, the basic idea of the importance of rules is a thread that runs through virtually the whole of Buchanan’s distinguished career, and it is one of his signal contributions to the contemporary discipline of economics. The Reason of Rules is an elaboration of the potential for rules and the normative process by which they can best be devised.

James M. Buchanan is an eminent economist who won the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1986 and is considered one of the greatest scholars of liberty in the twentieth century.

The entire series will include:

Volume 1: The Logical Foundations of Constitutional Liberty
Volume 2: Public Principles of Public Debt
Volume 3: The Calculus of Consent
Volume 4: Public Finance in Democratic Process
Volume 5: The Demand and Supply of Public Goods
Volume 6: Cost and Choice
Volume 7: The Limits of Liberty
Volume 8: Democracy in Deficit
Volume 9: The Power to Tax
Volume 10: The Reason of Rules
Volume 11: Politics by Principle, Not Interest
Volume 12: Economic Inquiry and Its Logic
Volume 13: Politics as Public Choice
Volume 14: Debt and Taxes
Volume 15: Externalities and Public Expenditure Theory
Volume 16: Choice, Contract, and Constitutions
Volume 17: Moral Science and Moral Order
Volume 18: Federalism, Liberty, and the Law
Volume 19: Ideas, Persons, and Events
Volume 20: Indexes

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865972322
  • Publisher: Liberty Fund, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/1/2000
  • Series: The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword xi Preface xv 1. The Constitutional Imperative 3
I. Introduction 3
II. Reasons for Rules 5
III. Rules of Games 8
IV. Rules of the Road 10
V. Rules of the Market Order 16
VI. Rules of Political Order 18
VII. The Importance of Rules 19 2. The Contractarian Vision 23
I. Introduction 23
II. Noncontractarian Constitutionalism 24
III. Individuals as Sources of Value 25
IV. Contract and Exchange 27
V. Politics in the Exchange Perspective 29
VI. Unanimity as the Contractual Ideal 31
VII. Agreement on Rules and the Veils of Ignorance and Uncertainty 33
VIII. Conclusions 36 3. The Myth of Benevolence 38
I. Introduction 38
II. Private Good and Public Good 39
III. Science, Truth, and Politics 43
IV. The Authoritarian Imperative 46
V. Majoritarian Democracy in the Noncontractarian Paradigm 48
VI. The Aim of Politics 50 4. Modeling the Individual for Constitutional Analysis 53
I. Introduction 53
II. Homo economicus in Politics: The Argument for Symmetry 56
III. Science and the Empiricist Defense 58
IV. A Methodological Defense of the Differential Interest Model of Behavior 59
V. Social Evaluation and Quasi–Risk Aversion 61
VI. Gresham's Law in Politics 68
VII. Summary 73 5. Time,Temptation, and the Constrained Future 76
Preface 76
Part 1. Individual Private Choice
I. Introduction 77
II. The Ultimate Z 's 77
III. Preferences for Preferences 78
IV. Past, Present, and Future 80
Part 2. Individual Public Choice
I. Introduction 83
II. Society with a History 84
III. Temporal Interdependence 85
IV. An Illustration 87
V. Moral Rules and/or Constitutional Commitment 89 6. Politics Without Rules, I: Time and Nonconstrained Collective Action 92
I. Introduction 92
II. The Social Discount Rate 93
III. The High-Tax Trap 94
IV. The Inflation Trap 101
V. The Public-Debt Trap 104
VI. Other Examples 106
VII. Conclusions 107 7. Rules and Justice 108
I. Introduction 108
II. Just Conduct and the Notion of Desert 109
III. Justice and Promise Keeping 111
IV. Justice among Rules 117
V. Just Rules, Agreed-on Rules, and Just Conduct 119
VI. Conclusions 123 8. Politics Without Rules, II: Distributive Justice and Distributive Politics 125
I. Introduction 125
II. Distributive Justice: The Conventional View 126
III. The Constitutional Perspective and Institutional Incidence 128
IV. The Incidence of Unrestricted Majoritarianism 131
V. Tax Rules and Distribution under Majority Rule 135
VI. Direct Constitutionalismand Distributive Justice 142
VII. Summary 146 9. Is Constitutional Revolution Possible in Democracy? 149
I. Introduction 149
II. Pareto-Superior Change and Wicksellian Unanimity 151
III. Distributional Limits and Prospective Rules 152
IV. Status Quo Entitlements and Distributional Envy 155
V. Constitutional Change and Free Riders 160
VI. The Role of Norms 162
VII. Toward a Civic Religion 165 Index 169
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