The subjectivist-contrarian position

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3 Scopus citations


James Buchanan endorses a radical version of subjectivism at several points in his body of work. I distinguish two distinct criteria for subjectivism in Buchanan. First, Buchanan rejects the realism of preferences, arguing that they serve only as an analytical tool for understanding choice. Second, Buchanan adopts an Austrian perspective inspired by Kirzner and Shackle on the importance of creativity. In addition to reconstructing Buchanan’s subjectivism, I examine how it relates to more recent work in political philosophy, behavioral economics, and psychology in order to ascertain the value Buchanan’s radical approach might still hold.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-494
Number of pages16
JournalPublic Choice
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Behavioral economics
  • Contractarianism
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Subjectivism


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