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The Ethics And The Economics Of Minimalist Government

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The Ethics And The Economics Of Minimalist Government

Timothy P. Roth

Timothy P. Roth, A.B. Templeton Professor and Chairman, Department of Economics and Finance, University of Texas, El Paso, US

2002 144 pp Hardback 978 1 84064 676 4
ebook isbn 978 1 84376 559 2

Hardback £77.00 on-line price £69.30


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‘The moral imperative of individual autonomy, embodied in the Kantian–Rawlsian perspective on social order, cannot be reconciled with the utilitarian presuppositions that inform normative applications of modern economics. This book exposes the contradictions that are present when the basic philosophical foundations are ignored, a stance that is, unfortunately, characteristic of much modern discourse as well as political practice.’
– James M. Buchanan, George Mason University, US and a Nobel Laureate


Further information

Because it is technically flawed and morally bankrupt, the author argues, the economist’s consequence-based, procedurally detached theory of the state has contributed to the growth of government. As part of the Kantian–Rawlsian contractarian project, this book seeks to return economics to its foundations in moral philosophy. Given the moral equivalence of persons, the greatest possible equal participation must be promoted, persons must be impartially treated and, because it is grounded in consequentialist social welfare theory (SWT), the economist’s theory of the state must be rejected. Ad hoc deployment of SWT has facilitated discriminatory rent seeking and contributed to larger government. In contrast, this book argues that equal political participation and a constitutional impartiality constraint minimize rent seeking, respect individual perceptions of the ‘public good’ and underwrite the legitimacy of government. Economists, moral philosophers and political scientists will find this book a unique contribution to the literature.

Full table of contents

Contents: Preface 1. A Prior Ethical Commitment 2. Ends vs. Means: Consequentialism vs. Contractarianism 3. The Consequentialist Approach to Government 4. Enter the Economists 5. The Efficiency Standard, Corruption and the Growth of Government 6. The Indeterminacy of Social Welfare Theory 7. The Contractarian Approach to Government 8. The Rules of the Political Game 9. Playing by the Generality Rule 10. Generality and Minimalist Government References Index

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