James Buchanan and the Return to an Economics of Natural Equals

  • David M. Levy
  • Sandra J. PeartEmail author
Part of the Remaking Economics: Eminent Post-War Economists book series (EPWE)


James Buchanan often argued that fairness is an obligation toward our equals. If Adam Smith is our equal, then we are under obligation to try to understand him. We see this in Buchanan’s attempts to reformat political economy on the basis of natural equals, a world in which Smith’s street porter does indeed have the same capacity as the philosopher. This shows in Buchanan’s excitement over increasing returns models as well as John Rawls’ Theory of Justice both of which he saw a way to make this view operational.


Unpublished Work

  1. Hoover Institute Special Collections, Gordon Tullock Papers.Google Scholar

Published Work

  1. Arrow, K. J. (1963). Social Choice and Individual Values. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  2. Buchanan, J. M. (1959). Positive Economics, Welfare Economics, and Political Economy. Journal of Law and Economics, 2, 124–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Buchanan, J. M. (1964). What Should Economists Do? Southern Economic Journal, 30, 213–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Buchanan, J. M. (1971). Equality as Fact and Norm. Ethics, 81, 228–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Buchanan, J. M. (1976a). Adam Smith on Public Choice. Public Choice, 25, 81–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Buchanan, J. M. (1976b). The Justice of Natural Liberty. Journal of Legal Studies, 5, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Buchanan, J. M. (1978). A Contractarian Perspective on Anarchy. Nomos, 19, 29–42.Google Scholar
  8. Buchanan, J. M. (1979). Review of Lectures on Jurisprudence by Adam Smith, R. L. Meek, D. D. Raphael and P. G. Stein. British Journal of Law and Society, 6, 130–133.Google Scholar
  9. Buchanan, J. M. (1992). Economic Science in the Future. Eastern Economic Journal, 18, 401–403.Google Scholar
  10. Buchanan, J. (1994). The Return of Increasing Returns: An Introductory Summary. In J. M. Buchanan & Y. Yoon (Eds.), The Return to Increasing Returns (pp. 3–13). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  11. Buchanan, J. M. (2003). Obituary: Justice Among Natural Equals: Memorial Marker for John Rawls. Public Choice, 114, iii–v.Google Scholar
  12. Buchanan, J. M. (2004). 10x10: James M. Buchanan. Politik, 7, 50–52.Google Scholar
  13. Buchanan, J. M. (2008). Let Us Understand Adam Smith. Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 30, 21–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Buchanan, J. M., & Rawls, J. (2008). The Buchanan-Rawls Correspondence. In S. J. Peart & D. M. Levy (Eds.), The Street Porter and the Philosopher: Conservations in Analytical Egalitarianism. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  15. Buchanan, J. M., & Samuels, W. J. (2008). Politics as Exchange or Politics as Power: Two Views of Government. In S. J. Peart & D. M. Levy (Eds.), The Street Porter and the Philosopher: Conversations on Analytical Egalitarianism (pp. 15–40). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  16. Buchanan, J. M., & Tullock, G. (1962). The Calculus of Consent: The Logical Foundations. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  17. Edgeworth, F. Y. (1881). Mathematical Psychics. London: C. Kegan Paul & Co.Google Scholar
  18. Hollander, S. (2015). John Stuart Mill: Political Economist. Singapore: World Scientific.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Knight, F. H. (1935). The Ricardian Theory of Production and Distribution. The Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science/Revue canadienne d’Economique et de Science politique, 1(3–25), 171–196.Google Scholar
  20. Lerner, M. (1937). Introduction. Inquiry into the Nature and Cause of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. New York: Modern Library.Google Scholar
  21. Levy, D. M. (1995). The Partial Spectator in the Wealth of Nations: A Robust Utilitarianism. European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 2, 299–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Levy, D. M., & Peart, S. J. (2005). The Theory of Economic Policy in British Classical Political Economy: A Sympathetic Reading. History of Political Economy, 37, 120–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Levy, D. M., & Peart, S. J. (2013). Adam Smith and the State: Language and Reform. In C. Berry, C. Smith, & M. Paganelli (Eds.), Oxford Handbook on Adam Smith. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Levy, D. M., & Peart, S. J. (2019). George Stigler as a Reader of Adam Smith. In C. Freedman (Ed.), Understanding the Enigmatic George Stigler: Extending Price Theory in Economics and Beyond. Springer.Google Scholar
  25. Levy, D. M., & Peart, S. J. (2016). Group Analytics in Adam Smith’s Work. Eastern Economic Journal, 42, 514–527. Scholar
  26. Levy, D. M., & Peart, S. J. (2017). Escape from Democracy: The Role of Experts and the Public in Economic Policy. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Malthus, T. R. (1798). An Essay on the Principle of Population. London: J. Johnson, in St. Paul’s Church-yard. Library of Economics and Liberty [Online]. Available at Accessed May 18, 2018 (Internet).
  28. Peart, S. J., & Levy, D. M. (2005). The “Vanity of the Philosopher”: From Equality to Hierarchy in Post-Classical Economics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ricardo, D. (1821). On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. London: John Murray. Library of Economics and Liberty [Online]. Available at Accessed May 19, 2018 (Internet).
  30. Robbins, L. C. (1928). The Representative Firm. Economic Journal, 38, 387–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rothbard, M. (2000). Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays. Auburn: Von Mises Institute. Available at
  32. Rothbard, M. (2009). Man, Economic and State: A Treatise on Economic Principles. Auburn: Von Mises’ Institute. Available at,%20Economy,%20and%20State,%20with%20Power%20and%20Market_2.pdf.
  33. Samuelson, P. A. (1948). International Trade and the Equalisation of Factor Prices. Economic Journal, 58, 163–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Schleisser, E. (2017). Adam Smith: Systematic Philosopher and Public Thinker. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Selby-Bigge, L. A. (1897). The British Moralists, Being Selections from Writers Principally of the Eighteenth Century. Oxford: At the Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  36. Smith, A. (1904). An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. E. Cannan (Ed.). London: Methuen & Co., Ltd. Library of Economics and Liberty [Online]. Available at Accessed May 18, 2018 (Internet).
  37. Stigler, G. J. (1971). Smith’s Travels on the Ship of State. History of Political Economy, 3, 265–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Stigler, G. J. (1975). The Citizen and the State. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  39. Strotz, R. H. (1955–1956). Myopia and Inconsistency in Dynamic Utility Maximization. Review of Economic Studies, 23, 165–180.Google Scholar
  40. Taussig, F. W. (1915). Some Aspects of the Tariff Question. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Library of Economics and Liberty [Online]. Available at Accessed May 19, 2018 (Internet).
  41. Viner, J. (1928). Adam Smith and Laissez-Faire. In J. M. Clark, P. H. Douglas, J. H. Hollander, G. R. Morrow, M. Palyi, & J. Viner (Eds.), Adam Smith, 1776–1926 (pp. 156–179). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  42. Vining, R. (1956). Economics in the United States of America A Review and Interpretation of Research. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  43. Von Mises, L. (1949). Human Action. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Whately, R. (1832). Introductory Lectures on Political Economy. London: B. Fellowes. Library of Economics and Liberty [Online]. Available at Accessed May 20, 2018 (Internet).
  45. Whately, R. (1833). Easy Lessons on Money Matters; For the Use of Young People. London: J. W. Parker.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.George Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.University of RichmondRichmondUSA

Personalised recommendations