Liberty Matters

Geoffrey Brennan’s reply to Viktor Vanberg


I agree that we are agreed. And in that sense, Viktor and I – and more to the point Jim Buchanan – have to insist that markets are not totally voluntary institutions in the sense that not all affected parties have the right of veto, and that classical liberals/libertarians have to answer to that challenge. As Viktor remarks in his earlier piece, libertarians might appeal to some form of “natural rights” structure to do this; they might think the proper property rights structure is given by fundamental normative principles. But that is expressly not the case for Buchanan. For him the proper rights structure is to be derived by constitutional contract in which (virtually) all participants exercise a capacity to veto. It is that constitutional right of veto that is the core of the classical liberal commitment in the Buchanan scheme.