Mainline Economics

Six Nobel Lectures in the Tradition of Adam Smith

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Published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in the Advanced Studies in Political Economy series.

Adam Smith is often referred to as the father of modern economics. Throughout his work, he attempted to answer one of the most important questions of all time: How can we humans live together peacefully and prosperously? The mainline of economic thought attempts to address the questions Smith advanced and is defined by a set of positive propositions about social order that were held in common from Adam Smith onward.

The six Nobel Laureates in Economics featured in this volume—F. A. Hayek, James M. Buchanan, Ronald H. Coase, Douglass C. North, Vernon L. Smith, and Elinor C. Ostrom—are the ones who have most consistently sought to advance the insights found in Adam Smith.

In their Nobel lectures, these scholars embrace the propositions of mainline economics and argue for continued work within the mainline tradition. Additionally, they offer serious critiques of mainstream economics and make appeals urging a return to the mainline.

This collection will serve as a useful resource for anyone interested in learning more about the mainline economists and for scholars who seek to contribute research in the mainline tradition.



Introduction: What is Mainline Economics?
Peter J. Boettke, Stefanie Haeffele-Balch, & Virgil Henry Storr

Chapter 1: The Pretense of Knowledge
F.A. Hayek

Chapter 2: The Constitution of Economic Policy
James M. Buchanan

Chapter 3: The Institutional Structure of Production
Ronald H. Coase

Chapter 4: Economic Performance Through Time
Douglass C. North

Chapter 5: Constructivist and Ecological Rationality in Economics
Vernon L. Smith

Chapter 6: Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems
Elinor C. Ostrom

Conclusion: Pursuing Research in the Mainline Tradition
Peter J. Boettke, Stefanie Haeffele-Balch, & Virgil Henry Stor