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Politics by Principle, Not Interest
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  • 18 b/w illus. 2 tables
  • Page extent: 190 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.45 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 320/.01/1
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: JC578 .B83 1998
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Equality
    • Justice
    • Majorities
    • Discrimination
    • Social choice

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521621878 | ISBN-10: 0521621879)

DOI: 10.2277/0521621879

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

 (Stock level updated: 02:09 GMT, 28 November 2015)


The very logic of majority rule implies unequal treatment or discrimination. If left unconstrained, majority coalitions will promote the interests of their own members at the expense of other persons. This book focuses on the effects of applying a generality constraint on the political process. Under this requirement, majorities would be constitutionally prohibited from treating different persons and groups differently. The generality principle is familiar in that all persons are to be treated equally. In summary, this book extends the generality norm to politics. Several defences of equal treatment or generality are developed and applied. These include the familiar intuition that invokes fairness. But the primary argument here is centred on political efficiency, which is increased when governments are constrained to treat persons or groups generally rather than differentially. The political efficiency defence of the generality constraint is based on a public choice analysis of the implication of majoritarian discrimination.

• Senior author is Nobel Laureate in Economics Science, 1986, founder of public choice analysis, and author of 22 books • Develops interesting arguments concerning the merits of generality in treatment within a democratic polity • The policy implications of generality have been largely overlooked by modern analysis, and these implications have economic consequences


List of figures and tables; Preface; Acknowledgements; Part I. Introduction: 1. Generality, law, and politics; Part II. Analysis: 2. Majoritarian democracy; 3. Eliminating the off-diagonals; 4. Extending the argument; 5. Generality and the political agenda; Part III. Application: 6. Generality and externality; 7. Market restriction and the generality norm; 8. The political efficiency of general taxation; 9. Deficit financing and intertemporal discrimination; 10. Generality and the supply of public services; 11. Generality and redistribution; 12. Generality without uniformity: social insurance; 13. Generality without uniformity: federalism; Part IV. Prospect: 14. The political shape of constitutional order; Endnotes; References; Index.

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