Richard E. Wagner: James M. Buchanan and Liberal Political Economy: A Rational Reconstruction
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Richard Wagner’s newest book is an intellectual tour of the various strands of political economy pioneered by James Buchanan, the 1986 Nobel laureate in economics and Wagner’s dissertation adviser. In addition to surveying the major streams of Buchanan’s thought, Wagner uses the ideas bequeathed to us by Buchanan to explore new territory in political economy and social philosophy. The book is neither intellectual history nor applied political economy, but combines traits of both in a way that yields an important and informative work.
Chapter one sets the stage by providing a brief biography of Buchanan, as well as describing the categories of his thought that will receive deeper treatment in subsequent chapters. This chapter also contains some history of the development of the Virginia school of political economy, as well as Wagner’s ideas on the theory and method of classifying schools of thought. Wagner makes it clear he is offering a “rational reconstruction” (p. 4) of Buchanan,...