Front Page Titles (by Subject) 3: The Economic Approach to the Political - Freedom and the Law (LF ed.)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
3: The Economic Approach to the Political - Bruno Leoni, Freedom and the Law (LF ed.) 
Freedom and the Law, expanded 3rd edition, foreword by Arthur Kemp (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1991).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
This work is copyrighted by the Institute for Humane Studies, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, and is put online with their permission.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
The Economic Approach to the Political
I have already stated at the beginning of these lectures that we still lack studies worth mentioning on the nature of the law-making process as compared with the nature of the market process. This statement, however, needs qualification. During recent years, some studies have appeared with the intent of comparing market choice on the one hand and political choice through voting on the other. The law itself may be conceived as an object of choice, i.e., of political choice. To the extent that we identify law with legislation, we can take advantage of the recent studies of political choice as compared with market choice in order to draw a comparison between the market and the law conceived as legislation.
The usual perspective of decision-making or choice-making theories is an individualistic one. It is usually admitted, at least implicitly, that every decision must be someone’s decision. But the theorists are also aware of the fact that the decisions of individuals are not only competitive (as when individuals are out for themselves) but also cooperative (as when individuals try to reach a single decision for a whole group). Some authors call these cooperative decisions “group decisions” and try to work out special systems in order to enable different individuals (by applying independently the standard procedures of the system to a given set of data) to come out with essentially the same inferences and possibly with essentially the same decisions. The same authors recognize, however, that the value of their system is still unproved, at least for group decisions outside the scientific world. This is a pity (as one of them says) because very few and only questionable mechanisms for other group decisions have so far been invented, for instance, voting procedures (such as majority rule) and verbal bargaining. In fact it is admitted that the ballot box “works (only) when decisions are relatively non-technical, and when the group loyalty is strong enough so that minority voters are willing to stay with the group and accept the majority decision.”1 On the other hand, verbal bargaining, which may of course operate in conjunction with voting procedures, is subject to serious limitations.
However, I think that group decision, as the cooperative decision of a number of individuals in accordance with some procedure, is both a useful and an understandable idea for the political scientist—not that we should equate group decision and political decision. We probably cannot exclude some individual agents, whose decisions Max Weber would call “monocratic.” Nor can we say that all group decisions are political. Boards of directors in trade corporations make group decisions that we should not call political in the ordinary sense. Thus we should be cautious about agreeing with Professor Duncan Black when he thinks of his theory of committee decisions as a political tout court.2
But it is clear that a great many decisions which are usually called “political,” such as decisions of constituencies, of administrative or executive agencies, of legislatures, etc., are really group decisions, or cooperative decisions in the sense indicated by Bross of single decisions reached by several individuals for a whole group.
We must note at this point that the individualistic perspective seems to be altered somewhat when we speak of group decisions. The decision of a “whole group” may or may not be the same decision that each individual in the group would make if he were in a position to decide for the whole group. I wonder whether this would be so in the scientific world mentioned by Bross. But it is the case wherever there is no unanimity among the decisions of the several members of a group, and such lack of unanimity in groups is the rule rather than the exception. Group decisions are not usually identical with each single individual decision inside the group.
This fact goes some way toward explaining the appeal of those semi-mystical or semi-philosophical constructions in which the collectivities, such as the state, are conceived as independent entities making decisions as if they were individuals.3 But there is no need, I think, to cling to any such notion of an “unmeetable person” with whom “one can never converse” (as the late Miss MacDonald would have said) in order to analyze the consequences of lack of unanimity in groups.4
But when political decisions are group decisions, then we must take such lack of unanimity into account. And the usual procedure for doing this is voting according to majority principle. A great many political decisions are in fact made this way. They are thus different from individual choices in the market, where voting procedures are not needed in order to buy commodities. Nonetheless, the fact that voting also involves individual choice has led some scholars to compare individual choice in political voting and in the market. It has been said, indeed, that “a substantial part of the analysis will be intuitively familiar to all social scientists, since it serves as a basis for a large part of political theory on the one hand and economic theory on the other hand.”5
All the features of the process of choosing seem to be present both in the group and in individual decisions—orderings of values, assessments of probabilities, calculations of expectations, choices of strategies, etc. Voting is held to resemble market choice, and the market itself is thought of (not very consistently) as a big decision group where everyone votes by buying or selling commodities, services, etc. On these analogies Duncan Black has been led to consider his theory of committees a “general theory of economic and political choice.” Conceived as theories of committee decisions, both sciences “really form two branches of the same subject.” “Each relates to choosing of some kind,” makes “use of the same language, the same mode of abstraction, the same instruments of thought, and the same methods of reasoning.” In other words, in both sciences the individual is represented by his scale of preferences, and both properly leave technological facts outside. Although there is a difference in the degree of knowledge of the outcome of the various lines of action that might be chosen, this knowledge often being greater in economics than in politics, there would be no difference in principle “between the economic and political estimates which people can make.”
Moreover, (according to Black) the same instrument is common to both sciences— the concept of equilibrium.6
According to Black, in economics “although the conception has been differently treated by different authors” the underlying idea has always been that equilibrium results from equality of supply and demand. “In political science, the motions before a committee stand in some definite order on the scales of preferences of the members. Equilibrium will be reached through one motion being selected as the decision of the committee by means of voting. The impelling force towards having one particular motion selected will be the degree to which the members” schedules, taken as a group, rank it higher than the others. . . .” Black recognizes that there are obstacles in the way of this process and that one of them is the particular form of committee procedure in use because it can be shown that with a given group of schedules, “one procedure will select one motion, while another procedure will select another.” This fact does not prevent Black from concluding that although each science uses a different definition of equilibrium, “the underlying conceptions are the same in kind.” If the definition of equilibrium relates to equality of demand and supply, the phenomena will be economic in nature; if it relates to equilibrium being attained by means of voting, they will be political, and in both sciences the most general type of theory of equilibrium “would be formulated in terms of mathematics.” The pure theory would enable us to work out the effects of any given change in political circumstances. The initial state of equilibrium, before the change was introduced, would be examined; and when the data had altered so as to incorporate the given change, the new state of equilibrium would give the effects of the assumed political change. “The method by which the effects of such political change would be traced is that familiar in economics as the method of comparative statics.”
I dealt with Black’s theories in my lectures on the “Theory of the State” at Pavia in 1953-1954, and I was later surprised and pleased to see that several criticisms I had made had been worked out independently by Buchanan in his article published in 1954 on “Individual Choices in Voting and the Market.” Buchanan was concerned at that time with the general problem of comparing market choices and political voting, not in the usual terms of the relative efficiency of centralized and decentralized decision-making, but in terms of a more complete understanding of the individual behavior involved in the two processes. Although he did not quote Black’s theory, and may not have been acquainted with it at that time, Buchanan managed to prove that very important differences exist between market choice and voting choice, and that the analogy of the popular saying “one dollar, one vote” is only partially appropriate. In the market choice the individual is the choosing entity as well as the entity for which the choices are made; whereas in voting (at least in what we usually call political voting) while the individual is the acting or choosing entity, the collectivity of all the other individuals is the entity for which the choices are made. Moreover, the act of choosing in the market and the consequences of choosing stand in one-to-one correspondence. On the other hand, the voter can never predict with certainty which of the alternatives present will be chosen.
Buchanan indicated other fundamental differences between the two processes. The individual choosing in the market “tends to act as if all the social variables were determined outside of his behavior, while the individual in the polling place, by contrast, recognizes that his vote is influential in determining the final collective choice.” On the other hand, “since voting implies collective choice, the responsibility for making any social or collective decision is necessarily divided, and there is no tangible benefit or cost directly imputable to the chooser in the polling place in connection with his personal choice.” The result is probably a less precise and less objective consideration of alternative costs than takes place in the minds of individuals choosing in the market. A further and most important distinction has been emphasized by Buchanan in much the same way as it was emphasized by me in the lectures I mentioned before: “Alternatives of market choice normally conflict only in the sense that the law of diminishing returns is operative. . . . If an individual desires more of a particular commodity or service, the market normally requires only that he take less of another.” By contrast, “alternatives of voting choice are more exclusive,” that is, the selection of one precludes the selection of another. Group choices, so far as the individuals belonging to the group are concerned, tend to be “mutually exclusive by the very nature of the alternatives” which are regularly (as Buchanan admitted in 1954) of the “all or none variety.” This feature arises not only because of the poverty of the schemes usually adopted and adoptable for the distribution of voting strength, but also because (as both Buchanan and I maintained in 1954) many alternatives that we usually call political do not allow these combinations or composite solutions which render market choices so articulate in comparison with political choices. An important consequence is that in the market the dollar vote is never overruled. As illustrated by Mises, the individual is never placed in the position of a dissenting minority: “ . . . on the market no vote is cast in vain,”7 at least so far as the existing or potential alternatives of the market are concerned. To put the point the other way around, there is a possible coercion in voting that does not occur in the market. The voter chooses only between potential alternatives: “He may lose his vote and be compelled to accept [to quote Buchanan again] a result contrary to his expressed preference.”
We can see that between the choices of individual voters and resulting group decisions there is no consistency (in the sense previously assumed) whenever voters are on the losing side. The voter who loses initially makes one choice but eventually has to accept another that he has previously rejected. His individual decision-making process has been overthrown. It is true that on the winning side consistency may be discerned between individual choices and group decisions; but we can scarcely speak of a consistency of the whole process of group decisions in the same way we can speak of consistency in an individual process of decision making. And perhaps we can go further and doubt whether there is any sense whatever in speaking of a rationality in this voting process, unless we refer simply to conformity with the rules set for decision procedures. In other words, we had probably better speak here not of process but of procedure. A consistent procedure may well be the second best when a consistent process of choice cannot be traced. A real comparison between these two kinds of consistency has appeared to some scholars as just as devoid of sense as trying to find out “whether a pig is fatter than a giraffe is tall.”8
Another conclusion to be drawn from what we have said before is that the concept of equilibrium can be used only in different ways in economics and in politics. In economics equilibrium is defined as equality of supply and demand, an equality understandable when the individual chooser can so articulate his choice as to let each single dollar vote successfully. But what kind of equality between supply and demand for laws and orders can be assumed in politics—where the individual may lose his vote; where he can ask for bread and be given a stone?
There is still, however, the possibility of using the term “equilibrium” in politics whenever you can imagine that all the individuals belonging to a group are unanimous in taking some decision. As Rousseau once said, a community is to be conceived as “unanimous” at least as far as its members agree to submit to majority rule. This means that whenever a group decision takes place, the individual members of the group are unanimously convinced that a bad decision is better than none, or, to put it more properly, that a collective decision which a member of the group considers bad is better than none. Unanimous agreement does not require any special procedure in order to make the decision that has been considered as adoptable by the members of the group. A group decision, when unanimously agreed upon, may be considered as consistent as any other taken by the individual chooser in the market. Thus it seems that we are here confronted with the same kind of pig as in economics, and it makes sense to ask whether this “political” pig is fatter than the “economic” one. The latter considerations may lead, and in fact did lead, independently in the article I quoted above, in lectures I delivered in Claremont, California, in 1958 (which became Freedom and the Law), and in Professor Buchanan’s recent work (published in collaboration with Gordon Tullock) The Calculus of Consent,9 to emphasize again rather strongly some possible similarities between the economic and the political decisions.
If a community is to be considered as “unanimous,” at least as far as its members agree to submit to some kind of majority or, to say that more generally, to some kind of less than unanimous rule, the similarity between those unanimous political decisions and economic decisions re-emerges at a higher level. People do not yet decide any particular political issue, but first decide what rules they are to adopt for all kinds of political decisions’that is, for the political game.
In fact, the choice of the rules for the political game may be due to a process as rational and as free as that resulting in any other choice in the market. At this higher level, people may compare costs and benefits relating to any rule to be chosen for making political decisions. They may decide, for instance, that in some cases some rules will be more adoptable than others, and specifically that unanimity rules or qualified majority rules will be more suitable than others to protect potentially dissenting individuals from possibly harmful effects of the coercive action of deciding majorities.
The comparison between the political and the economic action in this respect is not limited, however, to the level of the choice of the general rules for making decisions. It is an undoubted merit of Tullock and Buchanan to have recently extended the analysis to ordinary political decisions, also under the assumption that the latter are taken in accordance with procedural rules (they call them “constitutional” rules) unanimously agreed upon by the members of the political group concerned. A typical trait of this analysis is the recognition of the fact that vote trading (or logrolling) takes place very frequently in the actual political process, and the corresponding recognition that vote trading, under certain conditions, should be considered beneficial to all the members of the political group, just as trade of ordinary goods and services has been considered beneficial, by the founders of economics, to all the members of the community in which the market system has been adopted. Moreover, the conditions under which the vote trading may be beneficial to all the members of the political community are similar to the conditions under which the usual trading of commodities and services is beneficial, that is, to the conditions under which no monopoly and no conspiracy can be established by one or more members of the community in order to exploit the others.
By “trading” their votes through a long-run and continuous process of bargaining until a unanimous agreement is reached among them, all the members of a political group are confronted with many possible alternatives and are able to prevent any coalition of members of the group from making decisions that may be harmful to the others. The resulting situation should be a general agreement similar to that which renders a competitive market possible and efficient. This theory is presented as descriptive as well as normative, according to the usual type of modern theories of choice.
One must ask, however, how far such an analysis can go in assimilating political decisions to economic decisions from this point of view. I propose to examine here the limits of a conception which admits vote trading in politics by assuming simply that voting means merely a way of securing some utilities for the individual concerned, according to some privately accepted set of values.
To begin with, I wish to suggest a reconsideration of a probable weak point in this otherwise clever and interesting analysis of the possible similarities between political and economic decisions. It seems to me that this analysis, in the form adopted by the authors at the present stage of their work, reveals some lack of preliminary and precise definitions relating to some basic concepts of the analysis itself. “Political” or “collective” choice on the one hand is distinguished from “private” or “voluntary” choice on the other. According to the theory, private choices may be individualistic as well as cooperative. In their turn, cooperative choices on the one hand and collective choices on the other are always, quite correctly, considered as different in kind, even when they seem to be similar. But unless I am wrong, a “collective” action is never defined satisfactorily or explicitly in this theory. The reason for this weakness in an otherwise accurate and penetrating analysis is probably a psychological one. The whole theory is based on an individualistic point of view on which I agree quite cordially. But the more the authors try to emphasize the role that voluntary consent has in a political community both at the “constitutional” and at the ordinary level, the less they seem to be inclined to recognize openly, although they admit it implicitly, that what makes a “collective” decision “collective” and not simply “cooperative” at the individualistic level is the fact that the former is always, in the last analysis, susceptible to being enforced upon all the members of the group—regardless of the particular individual attitude towards that decision at any given time. Decisions that can be enforced are, in the last analysis, coercive decisions. While coercion is something that economists never need to take into consideration when they are concerned with goods and services being voluntarily supplied or demanded in the market, it is also something that one cannot help taking into consideration when one moves from the market to the political scene.
In connection with their hesitancy to openly recognize the importance of the concept of “coercion” (whatever this may mean) in their own analysis of politics, the authors of the theory explicitly reject any power-approach to the problems they are confronted with in dealing with political decisions. They assume that that approach is irremediably contradictory to the economic one. They adopt the argument that while you can simultaneously maximize, through the economic exchange, the utilities of the seller and the buyer in the market, the result being a net gain for both, you cannot do the same if you try to maximize individual power. You cannot have at the same time maximized powers both for the man who wins and the man who loses in a struggle for power.
I have already suggested on another occasion that this comparison, although accepted as a matter of course by several economists, is not presented in a proper way. I would not compare power with utility. Power, like the commodities or services taken into consideration by the economists, has its own utility for the individual concerned. But this is not the only similarity between power and commodities or services. There is a sense in which you can exchange power as well as you can exchange commodities or services. And the exchange of power may also result in maximizing utilities for the individuals who participate in the exchange. If I grant you the power to prevent me from hurting you, provided that you grant me a similar power to prevent you from hurting me, we are both better off after this exchange, and we are precisely better off in terms of utilities. In other words, we have both maximized the utility of our respective power. (A similar maximization obviously occurs when two or more individuals agree to join their powers in order to prevent other people from doing something harmful to them.)
May I suggest that a political community starts precisely when this exchange of powers takes place—an exchange that is preliminary to any other, of commodities or of services. As a matter of fact, the power approach is not a recent device of political scientists. You find it in the classic political literature and the whole Aristotelian theory of politics may be considered as based to a great extent on that approach, since Aristotle recognized at the very beginning of his treatise on politics that there are men who are destined by nature to have power over others (arkoi) and men who are destined by nature to be subject to the power of others (arkomenoi). There is in the Aristotelian theory an explicit recognition of the profit that both arkoi and arkomenoi derive from cooperating, although Aristotle fails to see clearly that any collaboration between the arkoi and the arkomenoi always implies the existence of some minimum powers (at least of some negative ones) guaranteed to the arkomenoi as a kind of consideration for the more obvious and positive powers granted to the arkoi.
This way of considering the question would not at all exclude the economic approach. It would reconcile it with an approach (i.e., the power approach) that seems to be increasingly adopted by political scientists today.
But unless I am wrong there are several limits for a conception which admits vote trading in politics by explicitly assuming that voting simply means a way of securing some utilities for the individuals concerned, and implies that those utilities are similar in kind to those dealt with by individuals in the market.
1) We have seen that the authors of this theory do not assume that vote trading would be beneficial in all cases. They insist on the conditions, according to Pareto’s rules under which such trading could be really beneficial to all members of the community concerned, that is the conditions under which no monopoly and no conspiracy can be established by one or more members of the community concerned in order to satisfy their “sinister interests” at the expense of some or all of the other members.
These limiting conditions are, however, not the only ones that we should take into account. To begin with, there is a stage in which no vote trading would make any sense, i.e., the constitutional stage. According to the authors of the theory, this is the point for deciding what kind of rules are the most suitable in order to successfully make any sort of decisions including those to be reached through some bargaining of the kind that results in vote trading. The reason vote trading would not make any sense at this stage is not only because we do not yet have any procedural rule according to which we may vote. There is a still more important reason. The process of finding out the rules is a theoretical one. There are, of course, useful ways of finding such rules, but you cannot exchange their utilities, as if they were yours only, with the utilities of other ways of finding the same rules, as if the latter utilities belonged only to other people. There is no sense in bargaining when it is a question of knowing what is the sum of 2 + 2 or what is the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle in Euclidian geometry.
To put it in more general terms, there is no rationality in bargaining or in trading whenever it is a question of omitting a truth judgment relating to any subject whatsoever. The arguments leading to a correct conclusion are not for sale.
While the authors of the theory assume, at least implicitly, that no vote trading could reasonably take place at the constitutional stage, they seem to neglect the possibility that, at a lower stage than the constitutional, voting could be a process through which the members of a political community are supposed to emit truth judgments regardless of their personal interest in the matter concerned. If this is the case, bargaining and vote trading would be as irrational as they were at the constitutional stage.
We can conceive of several issues on which the voters may be requested to emit truth judgments regardless of their own personal interests in the issue. If we assume, for instance, that a jury is a political institution, and that consequently its members emit, by voting, a political decision, nobody would maintain that they would act rationally if they traded their votes with other members of the jury, according to some consideration of their personal utilities. Of course we can conceive of corrupted members of a jury who might be bribed by people interested in their decision. We could call their vote trading “rational” though very objectionable from an ethical point of view. But this is not the case as long as we assume that members of a jury are not going to be bribed by anybody. Vote trading in the latter case would appear simply irrational from all points of view. Similar considerations apply to any other kind of truth judgments to be emitted by the members of a political community through the process of voting.
Indeed, the authors of the theory may counter by saying, quite correctly, that voting is not the right procedure to follow in order to reach sound conclusions relating to some objective truth, and that therefore the attempts to do that on the political scene risk being sheer illusion. Still, there are cases in which truth judgments on the part of the voters are useful in order to know their opinions—if any—concerning a given political issue. In those cases the voting procedure may be the most appropriate way of finding out precisely what those opinions are regardless of the fact that these opinions may be true or false according to some scientific tests. It is obvious that there would be no vote trading in the latter cases.
2) It is probably reasonable to suspect that the applicability of the vote-trading model is limited whenever differences emerge between the individual choice in the polling place and in the competitive market—which are conspicuous enough to force us to neglect the existing similarities. For instance, a) the fact, already stated above, that there is more uncertainty and in general less knowledge of the costs and the benefits involved in the process of choosing through voting than in the process of buying or of selling in the market renders it much more difficult to trade votes than to trade commodities and services in the market. Moreover, b) vote trading seems to be irremediably less beneficial than regular trading in the market because the voter takes much less responsibility for his choice than any operator in the market. While unsuccessful operators are pushed out of the market and better ones step in, nothing of that kind happens on the political stage where unsuccessful voters never go out, and new possibly successful voters are not allowed to step in as successful operators do in the market. It may be countered that in the political process unsuccessful voters may be forced to abandon the political scene qua voters whenever they allow a tyrant to end the democracy. This fact, however, far from being acceptable evidence in favor of the similarities between unsuccessful voters on the one hand and unsuccessful operators in the market on the other, forces us to recognize important differences between the former and the latter. In the case of unsuccessful voters taken over by a tyrant, each and all of the voters must go out of the political scene qua voters, including the potentially successful ones—the resulting situation being not a selection of the best voters but the final ruin of a political community based on the voting system. c) A similar limitation to the applicability of the vote-trading model seems to emerge where alternative issues in politics are more exclusive than those offered to the individuals in the market. Vote trading in the presence of two mutually exclusive issues will be comparable to the trading of commodities and services in a situation in which oligopoly or oligopsony dominates the market, that is, in a situation in which market prices are less likely to emerge than in a situation in which a more regular competition takes place. Finally, d) it should be noticed that while the inconveniences we have underlined take place under any minority or majority rule, the relationship between collective action taken under the rule of unanimity on the one hand, and purely voluntary action, such as occurs in the market, on the other hand is not as close as it probably appears to the authors of the theory. Under unanimity, a voter whose consent is necessary to all the other voters to make a group decision is only to a certain extent comparable to an individual whose consent is necessary to other people who wish to buy from him or to sell to him services or commodities in the market. Neither the former nor the latter is forced to accept other people’s decisions without his own consent. This consent, however, is certainly a necessary although not a sufficient condition for the existence of a competitive market.
In fact, the voter under unanimity rule is in a position which may be closely related to that of a discriminating monopolist who can realize the whole benefit of the exchange of the commodities or of the services he is able to sell, and can therefore acquire the whole, or almost the whole, of the so-called consumer’s surplus. This fact, which has been sometimes rather improperly termed as a possible “blackmail” on the part of a dissenting voter under unanimity rule, should not be neglected in a theory that tries to secure in politics the conditions of a competitive market. Whenever out of a group of 100 voters, 99 are in favor of a given decision and 1 opposes it, the attempt of the latter to not only be compensated for giving up his opposition, but more than compensated by his 99 fellow voters with a net gain for himself is perfectly rational from the point of view of the very theory we are discussing. If this happens, the Pareto rule may be respected, but we cannot compare the position of the voters to that of the individuals in a competitive market. It may be countered that any voter under unanimity rule may be interested in giving his consent to the other 99 for a small benefit, rather than risking the loss of that benefit if the other 99 voters think that the price requested by the last one for his consent is too high. But this fact does not prevent the dissenting voter from bargaining in a much better condition than the other 99 voters—a condition comparable to that of a discriminating monopolist. Of course, discriminating monopolies may occur in the market as well as in political decisions. But while they tend to be reduced in the market at least in the long run, until costs are equalizing prices, there is no hope of a similar result for group decisions under unanimity rule.
The authors themselves admit that their theory may supply only a partial explanation of the actual process of voting in politics. The corresponding normative value of the theory is limited accordingly. Unless we are wrong, more accurate inquiry about the limits of the applicability of this interesting economic approach to politics would probably be useful both to economists and political scientists in order to reach a deeper understanding of their respective subjects.
[1 ] Irwin D. J. Bross, Design for Decision (New York: Macmillan, 1953), p. 263.
[2 ] Duncan Black, “The Unity of Political and Economic Science,” Economic Journal, Vol. 60, No. 239, September 1950.
[3 ] One of the recent attempts to revive this kind of assumption, it seems to me, is the idea that a “social welfare function” or a “rational social choice” can be obtained by means of mathematical tricks such as those analyzed in Kenneth Arrow’s famous essay Social Choice and Individual Values (New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1951). In such a view, computing machines become the modern substitute for the Volksgeist or the Verhunft.
[4 ] Margaret MacDonald, “The Language of Political Theory,” Logic and Language (First Series), ed. Antony Flew (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1955), pp. 167-186.
[5 ] James M. Buchanan, “Individual Choices in Voting and the Market,” Journal of Political Economy, LXII, 1954, p. 334. The essay is reprinted in Fiscal Theory and Political Economy: Selected Essays (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1960).
[6 ] Here Black seems to echo an idea implied by Pigou in two articles published, if I remember correctly, in the Economic Journal in 1901 and 1906, where Pigou pointed to an analogy between supply and demand in the market in relation to goods, and supply and demand in the political field in relation to laws and orders. One is also reminded of the ideas in Arthur F. Bentley’s The Process of Government (Bloomington: The Principia Press, 1935 [first published in 1908) and of the American theorists whose ideas have been rather severely examined in David Easton’s The Political System: An Inquiry into the State of Political Science (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1953).]
[7 ] Ludwig von Mises, Human Action (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1949), p. 271.
[8 ] Robert A. Dahl and Charles E. Lindblom, Politics, Economics and Welfare (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1953), p. 241.
[9 ] James M. Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, The Calculus of Consent (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1962). Comments in this and the following lecture are based on an earlier mimeographed edition produced for limited circulation.