, Volume 152, Issue 3-4, pp 427-431
Date: 25 Jul 2012

Buchanan’s opening to constitutional choice and meta-levels of analysis

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The key to Buchanan’s basic challenge is to be found in The Calculus of Consent coauthored with Gordon Tullock and published in 1962. The subtitle “Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy” reveals the foundational character and normative orientation of scholarship concerned with liberty and justice in democratic societies. Tullock, who was trained as a lawyer and began his career as a foreign service officer, has, in my judgment, been somewhat more committed to the application of economic analysis more narrowly construed to nonmarket decision making. Buchanan was more concerned with the moral and philosophical foundations of constitutional democracy. Buchanan’s work has continued to focus on constitutional political economy, while Tullock’s work extends to a wider range of applications.

Tullock’s The Politics of Bureaucracy (1965) was, for me, an important complement to The Calculus of Consent in my own paradigmatic concerns about the possibility of democratic administration as

This is a substantially shortened version of a paper originally presented at the 1997 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, DC, August 28–31, 1997. See also version published in V. Ostrom (2012).