September 22, 2015

Introduction: 'The Economic Role of the State'

  • Peter J. Boettke

    Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
  • Peter Leeson

    Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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Find the paper at SSRN.com. 

We conceive of political economy, historical and contemporary, as reflecting sometimes competing and other times complementary assessments of the appropriate role of the state in economic life grounded in alternative approaches to the paradox of government. We call these differing approaches and the conclusions they generate "political-economic presumptions." Presumptions seems to us an appropriate term of categorization in that the different political-economic approaches they reflect are based in different evaluations of the costs and benefits of extending government’s reach into the economic domain, which in turn give rise to different “default” positions regarding the appropriate role of government. These default positions are presumed to be “correct” in any particular instance by those who hold them until and unless convincing arguments and evidence to the contrary are adduced by opponents, manifesting the clear desirability of deviating from the role ascribed to government by the default position in a given case. Alternative political-economic presumptions thus alternatively define upon whom the intellectual burden of proof should fall in debates regarding the expansion or contraction of government activity.