Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on April 1, 2012

in Civil Society, Other People's Money, Politics, Reality Is Not Optional

… is from page 226 of James Buchanan‘s 1979 collection What Should Economists Do? (H. Geoffrey Brennan & Robert D. Tollison, eds); specifically, it’s from Buchanan’s May 1978 American Economic Review essay “Markets, States, and the Extent of Morals”:

What can a person be predicted to do when the external institutions force upon him a role in a community that extends beyond his moral-ethical limits?  The tension shifts toward the self-interest pole of behavior; moral-ethical principles are necessarily sublimated.  The shift is exaggerated when a person realizes that others in the extended community of arbitrary and basically amoral size will find themselves in positions comparable to his own.

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