“The Calculus of Consent” and Classical Liberalism


This conference explored the historical and theoretical background and implications of The Calculus of Consent and public choice theory for classical liberalism, especially with regard to majority-rules democracy.


From Liberty Fund

The Federalist

by By Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison
Edited by George W. Carey and James McClellan

The Federalist, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, constitutes a text central to the American political tradition. Written and published in newspapers in 1787 and 1788 to explain and promote ratification of the proposed Constitution for the United States, which were then bound by the Articles of Confederation,…

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The Logical Foundations of Constitutional Liberty

by By James M. Buchanan
Foreword by Geoffrey Brennan, Hartmut Kliemt, and Robert D. Tollison

The thirty-one papers presented in this volume offer scholars and general readers alike a comprehensive introduction to the work of one of the greatest economists of the modern era. Many of Buchanan’s most important essays are gathered in this inaugural volume of the twenty-volume series from Liberty Fund of his…

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Politics by Principle, Not Interest

by By James M. Buchanan and Roger D. Congleton
Foreword by Hartmut Kliemt

“Politics by principle is that which modern politics is not. What we observe is ‘politics by interest,’ whether in the form of explicitly discriminatory treatment (rewarding or punishing) of particular groupings of citizens or of some elitist-dirigiste classification of citizens into the deserving or non-deserving on the basis of a…

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Additional Readings

Gwartney, James D. and Richard E. Wagner, eds. Public Choice and Constitutional Economics. Greenwich: JAI Press, Inc., 1988.

Buchanan, James and Gordon Tullock. The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan, Volume 3: The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1999.

Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan [Revised Student Edition]. Edited by Richard Tuck. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature. Edited by David Fate Norton and Mary J. Norton. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Scanlon, James. "The Federalist and Human Nature." Review of Politics 21 (1959): 657-677.

Spinoza, Benedict de, “Tractatus-Theologico-Politicus, Chapter 16” In The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza, Volume I, London: George Bell and Sons, 1891. 200-213.

Spinoza, Benedict de, “Tractatus-Politicus, Chapters 1 and 2” In The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza, Volume 1, London: George Bell and Sons, 1891. 287-300.

Tullock, Gordon. The Selected Works of Gordon Tullock, Volume 1: Virginia Political Economy. Edited by Charles K. Rowley. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 2004.

Tullock, Gordon. The Selected Works of Gordon Tullock, Volume 4: The Economics of Politics. Edited by Charles K. Rowley. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 2005.

Wagner, Richard E. “The Calculus of Consent: A Wicksellian Retrospective.” Public Choice 56, no. 2 (1988): 153-166.

Wicksell, Knut, “A New Principle of Just Taxation” In Classics in the Theory of Public Finance, edited by Richard A. Musgrave and Alan T. Peacock, 72-118. translated by J.M. Buchanan. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1967.