June 15, 2009

Best Case, Worst Case, and the Golden Mean in Political Economy

An Introduction to a Symposium on Tim Besley's 'Principled Agents? The Political Economy of Good Government'
  • Christopher Coyne

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

    Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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Tim Besley’s Principled Agents is a conceptually challenging work to both traditional welfare economics and the public choice approach identified with James M. Buchanan and Gordon Tullock. Besley’s argumentative strategy is to first admit the cogency of the public choice critique of market failure theory and traditional welfare economics and then to argue that the public choice critique goes too far in its pessimism. Instead, Besley argues that based on knowledge from public choice theory, institutional selection mechanisms can be designed in politics to select for both politician motivation and for politician competence. With such a mechanism in place, good government can result.

Read the article at SpringerLink.