At various points in his work, James Buchanan mentions favorably the idea of private constitutional choice, that is, it can be rational for a present-biased individual to constrain her future behavior by self-imposed rules of personal conduct. Given that in a classical liberal world such self-constitutions would face no political or legal obstacle, we ask whether reasonable people would call on the state to assist them in the enforcement of their personal constitutions. In this paper, we provide several arguments for the incompatibility of Buchanan’s contractarianism with various forms of state paternalism.
- James Buchanan
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Economics and Econometrics