Front Page Titles (by Subject) Preface - The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan, Vol. 10 (The Reason of Rules: Constitutional Political Economy)
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Preface - Geoffrey Brennan, The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan, Vol. 10 (The Reason of Rules: Constitutional Political Economy) 
The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan, Vol. 10 (The Reason of Rules: Constitutional Political Economy) Foreword by Robert D. Tollison (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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Preceding chapters have offered a philosophical-methodological perspective from which an emphasis on the rules or institutions within which social interaction takes place more or less naturally emerges. In this chapter, we offer reasons for rules in a more specific sense. Any binding rule is, of course, a constraint on behavior. Hence the question, Why should a person, or persons, deliberately choose to impose constraints on his or their own freedom of action?
There are several answers to this question, the applicability of each depending on the choice setting with which one is dealing. Our initial emphasis in this chapter is on the temporal dimensionality of individual choice, on the effects that recognition of this dimensionality exerts on choice behavior itself, and notably on the choice of rules. That is to say, we examine the implications of the simple fact that people choose among alternatives in the knowledge that their choices will affect the options available to them in subsequent periods. These effects are important and worthy of analysis regardless of the choice setting. But as noted, and as the discussion will suggest, the effects differ among settings, notably between individual behavior in private- and collective-choice roles.
Recognition of the temporal dimensionality of choice provides one “reason for rules”—rules that will impose binding constraints on choice options after the rules themselves have been established. That is to say, in either a private-choice or a public-choice role, persons may choose to restrict their own futures, and such behavior may be wholly rational.
The chapter is divided into two parts: The first analyzes individual choice in a private setting; the second analyzes individual choice in a collective-decision setting.