Dennis Mueller Quotes
3 Sourced Quotes
James Buchanan … produced several seminal contributions to the literature prior to the appearance of The Calculus, and a continual stream of books and articles afterward. I view Buchanan's Nobel Prize as a reward for this great body of work, and not just limited to The Calculus. Pursuing this line of reasoning, Gordon Tullock's prodigious research output following the publication of The Calculus also justifies a Nobel Prize. Indeed, Tullock's (1967c) seminal analysis of rent seeking, and his subsequent work on this topic might be regarded as sufficient achievements for the awarding of a prize.
When looking at the two streams of research these men produced, it is tempting to characterize Buchanan as a somewhat romantic optimist holding the belief that the pursuits of selfish individuals can be channeled for the common good, if the right set of constitutional constraints are adopted, and believing that individuals are capable of designing constitutions that achieve this goal. Thus, some 35 years after the publication of The Calculus, we find Buchanan, in joint work with Roger Congleton (1998), accepting the fact that legislatures always will adopt the simple majority rule, and trying to design constitutional constraints that will lead to outcomes benefiting all members of the community under that rule.
In his 1975 book, The Limits of Liberty, Buchanan returned to the study of constitutions, but now approached them with a somewhat more cynical (realistic?) Hobbesian perspective. His later books with Geoffrey Brennan (1980,1985) also emphasized the importance of constitutional rules as constraints on the selfish pursuits of individual actors, and as means for controlling that public sector beast—Leviathan. This concern with constitutional decision making and constitutional rules can be regarded as one of the salient characteristics of James Buchanan's research throughout his career.