Buchanan’s “Cost and Choice”


Among the principal schools of thought that have attempted to refine the initial marginalist advance in explaining the subjective nature of value and the proper understanding of price is the Austrian economic school during the socialist calculation debate. This conference sought to elucidate this important issue through focusing on James Buchanan’s highly readable review, published by Liberty Fund, of the entire controversy, with selected primary readings from Adam Smith, Philip Wicksteed, and Friedrich Hayek.


From Liberty Fund

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (vol. 1)

by By Adam Smith
Edited by R. H. Campbell and A. S. Skinner
William B. Todd, Textual Editor

First published in 1776, the year in which the American Revolution officially began, Smith’s Wealth of Nations sparked a revolution of its own. In it Smith analyzes the major elements of political economy, from market pricing and the division of labor to monetary, tax, trade, and other government policies that…

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Additional Readings

Buchanan, James M. The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan, Volume 6: Cost and Choice: An Inquiry in Economic Theory. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1999.

Hayek, F. A. Individualism and Economic Order. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948, 1980.

Wicksteed, Phillip H.. The Common Sense of Political Economy. London: Macmillan, 1920.