The Economics and the Ethics of Constitutional Order

James M. Buchanan
Nobel Laureate James Buchanan questions how people can live together in peace, prosperity, and justice


How do persons live together in peace, prosperity, liberty, and justice? This ancient question requires continuing analysis, discussion, and attention – by economists, by philosophers, by political leaders, and by members of the body politic. Buchanan’s interests have always centered on the issues relevant to this question, and his most recent essays reflect a new broadening of perspective.
In this collection of twenty distinctly but closely related essays, written over the period 1986-89 following the author’s receipt of the Nobel Prize in Economic Science, Professor Buchanan records his increasing interest in and developing ideas on the constitutional order of a free society, especially in its ethical foundations. The essays in this collection extend beyond the boundaries of economics into moral philosophy, political philosophy, methodology, and epistemology Many of the separate essays were initially delivered by special invitation as lectures to general audiences throughout the world.
The linking theme of the essays in The Economics and the Ethics of Constitutional Order is the continuing relevance of Adam Smith’s ideas to issues emerging in the 1990s – issues that have gained a new immediacy since the revolutionary events of 1989. How can societies organize their economies so as to produce goods and services efficiently while at the same time allowing individuals the liberties to make their own choices? Buchanan’s contributions here are directly addressed to this question.

Praise / Awards

  • "These essays easily confirm that Buchanan is more than an ordinary scholar. They sparkle, inform, and provoke throughout. This series of essays is a must not only for serious scholars but also for those who wish to remember, understand, and participate in the conversation about the intellectual underpinnings which have made and continue to make liberty, order, and prosperity possible."
    Journal of Economics
  • "[Buchanan] analyzes how the rules by which a society is to be governed are and should be chosen, and how they work once they are decided upon. . . . [T]he best single source from which to acquire a grasp of this relatively new area of analysis."
    Journal of Economics
  • ". . . extends the structure of Buchanan's thought in important ways . . . a welcome addition to the Buchanan corpus."
    —Dennis C. Mueller, Public Choice

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 272pp.
  • figures, tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1991
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10222-8

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  • $88.00 U.S.