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Abstract Based primarily on personal conversations with James M. Buchanan, this paper outlines three fundamental aspects of the Italian tradition found in Buchanan’s scholarship. The first is the particular emphasis on the role of the state. The second is the analysis of subjective cost. The third is the application of subjective cost to democratic public finance. This paper will focus on the latter two aspects, concentrating on two pioneering works on which Buchanan grounded two of his most imp...
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Abstract Nobel laureate James Buchanan was influenced substantially by Knut Wicksell’s arguments in favor of unanimous consent or “qualified majorities” for approving or rejecting specific public spending programs. Buchanan thought of Wicksell’s recommendation that spending proposals be tied to dedicated revenue sources as way of erecting a bridge between the two sides of the public budget, thereby forcing politicians to face the same tradeoffs as individuals do when formulating their spending p...
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Abstract James Buchanan endorses a radical version of subjectivism at several points in his body of work. I distinguish two distinct criteria for subjectivism in Buchanan. First, Buchanan rejects the realism of preferences, arguing that they serve only as an analytical tool for understanding choice. Second, Buchanan adopts an Austrian perspective inspired by Kirzner and Shackle on the importance of creativity. In addition to reconstructing Buchanan’s subjectivism, I examine how it relates to mor...
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Abstract Scientific inquiry, like all other human activity, cannot be separated from the humans conducting the inquiry. While public discourse often treats science as sacrosanct and scientists as devoid of any but the purest motives, the science of science literature has long understood scientific inquiry as a fundamentally social activity undertaken by self-interested, partial, human choosers with limited information (Polanyi in Minerva 1(1):54–73, 1962; Kuhn in The structure of scientific revo...
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