January 19, 2015

Gordon Tullock: A Maverick Scholar of Law and Economics

  • Richard Wagner

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

This essay sketches the central features of Gordon Tullock’s (1922-2014) contributions to law and economics. My reference to Tullock as a “maverick scholar” is to indicate that he stood apart from the mainstream of law and economics scholarship as this is represented by Richard Posner’s canonical statement that the common law reflects a relentless pursuit of economic efficiency. In contrast, Tullock denied efficiency claims on behalf of common law. Examination of Tullock’s contrary claim illustrates how any analytical claim necessarily rests on and is derived from some preceding set of conceptual presuppositions because such qualities as “efficiency” are not objects of direct apprehension but rather are inferences from particular theoretical frameworks.