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Freedom of Association and Its Discontents: The Calculus of Consent and the Civil Rights Movement

Including a Symposium on Ludwig Lachmann

ISBN: 978-1-78769-862-8, eISBN: 978-1-78769-861-1

ISSN: 0743-4154

Publication date: 19 August 2019

Abstract

Does the classical liberal emphasis on freedom of association provide an intellectual cover for bigotry? We formulate this question in economic terms using James Buchanan’s economic approach to ethics, according to which moral values can be understood as preferences about other people’s behaviors. We discuss two possible market failures associated with freedom of association: inter-group externalities and Schelling-type emergent segregation. We show that the classical liberal position about freedom of association, as elaborated in Buchanan and Tullock’s Calculus of Consent, is fully equipped to deal with the first one, but not with the second. The progressive view that some preferences are so offensive that they should be dismissed rather than engaged or negotiated with can be reframed as an attempt to solve the emergent segregation problem, but it is vulnerable to political economy problems of its own, in particular to an inherent tendency to over-expand the meaning of “bigotry.”

Keywords

Citation

Tarko, V. and Gangotena, S.J. (2019), "Freedom of Association and Its Discontents: The Calculus of Consent and the Civil Rights Movement", Including a Symposium on Ludwig Lachmann (Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, Vol. 37B), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 197-221. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0743-41542019000037B021

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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