, Volume 153, Issue 3-4, pp 511-513
Date: 30 Aug 2012

Mark Pennington: Robust political economy: classical liberalism and the future of public policy

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Frederic Bastiat argued in Economic Sophisms that “the worst thing that could happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended” (1845: 107). This is a demand for intellectually robust argumentation. David Hume, in his essay “Of the independency of parliament” (1742), argued that whenever political writers attempt to design a system of governance, they ought to suppose that every man is a knave, whose only pursuit is their own interest. This is a demand for institutional robustness in the system of governance. Mark Pennington’s Robust political economy is mainly a contribution to developing an intellectually robust argument for classical liberalism against the challenge from: (a) market failure theory, (b) communitarianism, and (c) egalitarianism. In the process of living up to Bastiat’s call, and meeting the intellectual challenge that classical liberalism faces, however, Pennington relies on the institutional robustness as established in classical l ...