Review of Political Economy vol:19 issue:2 pages:165-179
James Buchanan, one of the founders of Public Choice theory, applies the conceptual apparatus of economics to the public domain. This article investigates which assumptions are crucial to Buchanan’s project, concentrating on methodological individualism and the Homo Economicus model. It shows that Buchanan from time to time moves away from these economic concepts, though only in minor ways. The article also focuses on Buchanan’s normative emphasis on the role of institutions in coordinating self-interested individual actions in mutually beneficial ways. Criticizing Buchanan’s analysis, the paper argues that a broader view of the individual and of the role of institutions is necessary in a theory of constitutional choice.