Virginia Political Economy: A Rational Reconstruction

Originally published in Public Choice

This paper takes a methodological approach to identifying Virginia political economy, which gives Virginia political economy an analytical rather than a regional identity. I do this by employing a form of rational reconstruction to articulate what I perceive to be the analytical hard core of Virginia political economy.

Recognition of a distinctive style of political economy denoted as Virginia political economy appeared early in the 1960s. It is common though not universal to identify a school of thought by the academic location of the main figures associated with the creation and propagation of a particular set of ideas. By this approach, Virginia political economy is associated with the three academic venues where James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock did most of their work. While Buchanan and Tullock were pivotal characters in the development of Virginia political economy, that hard core is neither reducible to Buchanan and Tullock nor do they convey fully that hard core as is has arisen through scholarly interaction among many people over 50 years.

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