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Buchanan Camp — Park City, Utah

Summary:
I have been spending the past few days at Buchanan Camp organized by Michael Munger and Johnny Anomaly, and I am thrilled to do so.  There are 12 other participants from the fields of philosophy, politics, and economics, and the conversation has been fascinatingly productive as far as I am concerned.  Keep in mind, I teach a course on Constitutional Political Economy to PhD students every Spring so the readings aren't new to me, but in a fundamental sense they are because the conversational context has shifted.  Yesterday and today the bulk of the readings came from Vol. 17 and Vol. 15 of Buchanan's CW.  Vol. 17 has fast become one of my favorite volumes in Buchanan's writings --- Moral Science and Moral Order.  I recommend it to all of you, especially pages 235-349. I just finished

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I have been spending the past few days at Buchanan Camp organized by Michael Munger and Johnny Anomaly, and I am thrilled to do so.  There are 12 other participants from the fields of philosophy, politics, and economics, and the conversation has been fascinatingly productive as far as I am concerned.  Keep in mind, I teach a course on Constitutional Political Economy to PhD students every Spring so the readings aren't new to me, but in a fundamental sense they are because the conversational context has shifted.  Yesterday and today the bulk of the readings came from Vol. 17 and Vol. 15 of Buchanan's CW.  Vol. 17 has fast become one of my favorite volumes in Buchanan's writings --- Moral Science and Moral Order.  I recommend it to all of you, especially pages 235-349.

I just finished a draft of a paper with Rosolino Candela on Buchanan and the Properly Trained Economist, which I hope will get a wide readership, and I am finishing up revisions on a paper dealing with Buchanan and Academic Entrepreneurship with J. R. Clark.  So I am deep in the Buchanan weeds at the moment, and my appreciation of his depth and analytical grounding of the liberal project in political economy grows each day.  In his essay "Political Economy and Social Philosophy", Buchanan clearly identifies the intellectual tides he is bucking against --- (i) the utilitarian calculus, (ii) the engineering urge, and (iii) the elitist mentality.  This essay is a brilliant presentation of what Buchanan stands for and what he stands against, and how he builds his argument for a functioning democratic society.  The essay "Constitutional Democracy, Individual Liberty and Political Equality" is also full of insights and wisdoms.

Buchanan does put an interpretative burden on his reader --- he is a Wicksellian and a Knightian; he is influenced by Wicksteed, Mises, Knight, Hayek as a theorist of the price system and the market; he is building on Wicksell and the Italian public finance theorists to challenge the hegemony of the Samuelson/Musgrave understanding of fiscal affairs within a democratic system; and he has a host of other discussion partners such as Rawls, as well as of course Adam Smith and David Hume.  So all of these conversations are going on, and combinations being forged to build new and original arguments and provide insights into the workings of a constitutional order of a free people.  Buchanan's entire system builds to a structure that exhibits neither dominion nor discrimination.  This aspect of his work should never be forgotten in any assessment of his ideas and their importance.

As I was preparing to leave for Buchanan Camp, I was alerted to a post by Tim Taylor -- the longtime managing editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives --discussing of my SEA Presidential Address on Economics and Public Administration.  That address drew directly from Buchanan, and the conversation by Tim reflects the substance of many of these ideas. Please do check it out.

Peter Boettke
Peter Joseph Boettke (January 3, 1960) is an American economist of the Austrian School. He is currently a University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University; the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism, Vice President for Research, and Director of the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at GMU.

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