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James McGill Buchanan Jr. (1919–2013) received in 1986 The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. He helped pioneer public choice theory and cofounded both the Virginia school of political economy and constitutional political economy (sometimes termed constitutional contractarianism). His prolific body of work provided extensive contributions to public finance theory (public goods and taxation), constitutional political economy (or constitutional economics), the economic analysis of politics, legislative logrolling, and public debt theory. Buchanan’s contributions provided an economic science (positive theory) foundation for conservative and libertarian political views. His body of work frequently challenged conventional mainstream economics, and thus, Buchanan was academically often regarded as an outsider.

Three key ideas are most important from a business and society or business ethics perspective. First, ...

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