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Gordon Tullock on Individualism - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 102
Individualism/Buchanan/Tullock/Gaus: Writing in the early 1960s, James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock adamantly defended the ‘individualistic postulate’ against all forms of ‘organicism’: ‘This [organicist] approach or theory of the collectivity - is essentially opposed to the Western philosophical tradition in which the human individual is the primary philosophical entity’ (1965(1): 11–12). Human beings, insisted Buchanan and Tullock, are the only real choosers and decision-makers, and their preferences determine both public and private actions. The renascent individualism of late-twentiethcentury liberalism was closely bound up with the induction of Hobbes as a member of the liberal pantheon. Hobbes’s relentlessly individualistic account of society, and the manner in which his analysis of the state of nature lent itself to game-theoretic modelling, yielded a highly individualist, formal analysis of the liberal state and liberal morality (see Buchanan, 1975(2); Hampton, 1986(3)).
cf. >Individualism/Ritchie, >Individualism/Spencer.


1. Buchanan, James M. and Gordon Tullock (1965) The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
2. Buchanan, James M. (1975) The Limits of Liberty: Between Anarchy and Leviathan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
3. Hampton, Jean (1986) Hobbes and the Social Contract Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gaus, Gerald F. 2004. „The Diversity of Comprehensive Liberalisms.“ In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

EconTull I
Gordon Tullock
Arthur Seldon
Gordon L. Brady,
Government failure: A primer in public choice Washington 2002

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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