Homo Oeconomicus

, Volume 36, Issue 1–2, pp 87–109 | Cite as

The Status Quo in Buchanan’s Constitutional Contractarianism

  • C. M. MelenovskyEmail author
Research Paper


When Buchanan discusses the constitutional changes that members of society would agree to, he uses the status quo as the default. If no agreement occurs, we continue with the constitutional rules that are currently in place. This article argues that this choice results in an unjustified status quo bias. To make this point, I examine and challenge three possible arguments in favor of using the status quo as the default. Then, I give two arguments in favor of a form of contractarianism that does not use the status quo as a default.


Status quo James Buchanan Contractualism Normative analysis 

JEL Classification

B41 B31 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Suffolk UniversityBostonUSA

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