Public Choice: The Attempt

  • Hugh Stretton
  • Lionel Orchard


Most public choice theory rests on four assumptions: (i) individual material self-interest sufficiently motivates most economic behaviour, which (ii) is sufficiently understood by the use of neoclassical economic theory; and since (iii) the same individual material self-interest sufficiently motivates most political behaviour, (iv) that also may be sufficiently understood by the use of the same neoclassical economic theory. We dispute all four assumptions but lest our account of them be thought unfair, here is how a wholly sympathetic surveyor of public choice theory introduces it:

Public choice can be defined as the economic study of non-market decisionmaking, or simply the application of economics to political science. The subject matter of public choice is the same as that of political science: the theory of the state, voting rules, voter behavior, party politics, the bureaucracy, and so on. The methodology of public choice is that of economics, however. The basic behavioral postulate of public choice, as for economics, is that man is an egoistic, rational, utility maximizer.1


Public Good Public Choice Pareto Optimum Pareto Frontier Political Behaviour 
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Copyright information

© Hugh Stretton and Lionel Orchard 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hugh Stretton
  • Lionel Orchard

There are no affiliations available

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