Tyler Cowen on James Buchanan

He writes,

He thought through the conflict between subjective and objective notions of value in economics, and the importance of methodologically individualist postulates, more deeply than perhaps any other economist. Most economists hate this work, or refuse to understand it, either because it lowers their status or because it is genuinely difficult to follow or because it requires philosophy.

This is the aspect of Buchanan that I picked up on, but that is only one of 13 items in Tyler’s post.

2 thoughts on “Tyler Cowen on James Buchanan

  1. I’m still hunting for further material on this aspect of Buchanan, which also interested me most. One early link which was promising: CafeHayek, March 28, 2005, “Order Defined in the Process of Its Emergence”. Here Don Boudreaux pointed out Buchanan’s response in a Reader’s Forum on Norman Barry’s “The Tradition of Spontaneous Order”. In the response, Buchanan stressed the importance of voluntary exchange amongst individuals, in which decisions about the exchange itself could only be made afterward by the participants. Clearly this is anything but ideological, and yet still being missed as a vital way to move forward in services markets. For example, I noted that Elinor Ostrom was influenced by Buchanan but who would know by people’s initial perceptions? In Tyler’s first obit regarding Ostrom, there were nasty responses by some on the right, and in Buchanan’s obit (by Tyler), nasty responses from some on the left!

  2. Correction: the (earlier) Ostrom obit at Marginal Revolution may have in fact been from Tabarrok.