Front Page Titles (by Subject) VI.: Conclusions - The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan, Vol. 10 (The Reason of Rules: Constitutional Political Economy)
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VI.: Conclusions - 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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In this chapter, our aim has been to offer an account of the nature of justice that spills naturally out of our constitutionalist-contractarian perspective. We have specifically defined justice in terms of conduct that does not violate agreed-on rules. One major implication of this approach is that justice is not a “primary” concept. Rather, it is derived from two logically prior notions: first, that agreements carry moral obligations to abide by the terms of those agreements; and second, that appeals to justice take place within an institutional context that serves to assign justice its meaning.
The approach also suggests a grammar of “justice” arguments. In particular, appeals to justice are appeals to matters of fact, as well as value. What are the rules that govern particular areas of conduct? Were those rules agreed to, or can they be construed to have been agreed to? These are questions of fact. There remains, of course, the value question of the extent to which agreements should bind the agreers. But this issue cannot, as a general matter of principle, be decided by considerations of justice. Justice becomes relevant only when the force of voluntary agreement is taken as given.
We should finally emphasize the restrictive purpose of this chapter. Our central aim has been to relate the notion of justice to the rules of social order. The nature of the argument, however, has made it necessary to skirt perilously close to areas of deep philosophical inquiry for which our own claims to competence are, at best, marginal. We should therefore make clear the absence of any putative claim to have made a positive contribution to the analysis of justice itself.
The central point is important, however, to the overall thrust of our argument and, in our view, to a proper understanding of the concept of justice. Any discussion of justice, whether by learned philosophers or common people, takes for granted that the interaction of persons in society occurs within a structure of rules. Appeals to the considerations of justice are appeals to those rules. In this sense, once justice is deemed a desirable attribute of conduct or of social order, there is established an indirect “reason of rules”—and an independent demand for a constitutionalist or rule-focused perspective on social life.
Politics Without Rules, II: