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Markets, Morals, and the Law$
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Jules L. Coleman

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199253609

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199253609.001.0001

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The foundations of constitutional economics

The foundations of constitutional economics

Chapter:
(p.133) 5 The foundations of constitutional economics
Source:
Markets, Morals, and the Law
Author(s):

Jules L. Coleman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199253609.003.0005

This chapter discusses the differences between James Buchanan's ‘constitutional economics’ and traditional efficiency analysis. Because a Pareto improvement makes no one worse off and at least one person better off, one could argue that everyone would consent to making Pareto improvements. Thus, Paretianism can be defended on consensual grounds. In an effort to avoid the pitfalls of the utilitarian defense of Paretianism, lawyer economists have turned to this sort of consent-based defense of efficiency. Buchanan stands this argument on its head. What makes a state of affairs efficient, he claims, is that everyone agrees or consents to it, S is efficient because it is consented to, rather than the other way round. Both lines of argument seek to provide a foundational connection between efficiency and autonomy. In traditional Paretianism, the link is justificatory; in Buchanan's work it is analytic.

Keywords:   constitutional economics, James Buchanan, economic efficiency, consent, constitutionalism, subjectivism, realism

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