Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 375–390 | Cite as

Calhoun’s concurrent majority as a generality norm

  • Alexander William Salter
Original Paper


The purpose of this paper is to analyze the political philosophy of John C. Calhoun from the perspective of Virginia Political Economy. Specifically, this paper argues that Calhoun’s theory of the concurrent majority offers a way of operationalizing the “generality norm” of Buchanan and Congleton Politics by principle, not interest: towards nondiscriminatory democracy. liberty fund, indianapolis, (2003 [1988]).The analysis of this doctrine, which holds that constitutional democracy can only be preserved from majoritarian absolutism if minority interests have the power to check the power of majority coalitions, is this paper’s main purpose. The paper also discusses the most plausible way Calhoun’s recommendations can be put into practice in the United States by drawing on insights from his Discourse on the Constitution and Government of the United States, in which he defends the social compact theory of the union and the benefits of federalism.


Calhoun Concurrent majority Constitutional political economy Federalism Generality norm Majoritarianism Social compact Unanimity 

JEL Classification

H1 H77 P1 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsBerry CollegeMount BerryUSA

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