FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS: THE CALCULUS OF CONSENT AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT

Vlad Tarko, Santiago José Gangotena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Does the classical liberal emphasis on freedom of association provide an intel-lectual 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.”

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-221
Number of pages25
JournalResearch in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology
Volume37B
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Calculus of consent
  • educational vouchers
  • freedom of association
  • moral preferences
  • Schelling segregation
  • social justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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