What should economists do now?

Sugden, Robert (2018) What should economists do now? In: James M. Buchanan. Remaking Economics: Eminent Post-War Economists . Palgrave Macmillan. (In Press)

[thumbnail of Chapter] PDF (Chapter) - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 31 December 2099.

Request a copy


This essay discusses the arguments in Buchanan’s 1964 paper, ‘What should economists do?’, in the light of recent developments in behavioural economics. Criticizing the preference-satisfaction criterion of neoclassical economics, Buchanan argues that the central concern of economics should be to design and maintain institutions that allow individuals as much opportunity as possible to make their own choices and to engage in voluntary cooperation. He worries that using preference rather than choice as the fundamental normative concept might license social planners (and economists who see themselves as their advisers) to set themselves up as the judges of what individuals ‘truly’ prefer. This is exactly what behavioural welfare economics is now doing by using the satisfaction of (supposed) latent preferences as its criterion. Following Buchanan, I propose an opportunity-based criterion and argue that the contractarian justification for this criterion is unaffected by behavioural findings.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: james buchanan,contractarianism,opportunity,behavioural economics,paternalism
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Economics
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2018 14:30
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2021 01:31
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/67304

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item