The Notre Dame Public Choice Theory Symposium

Welcome to PCT Symposium 2019:
The Life and Contributions of James Buchanan

The UNDA Public Choice Theory Symposium is an annual one-day gathering devoted to exploring topics in the sub-discipline of economics known as Public Choice Theory.  This entails modelling agents who participate in the political domain as largely self-interested.  Some of the topics considered include rent seeking, regulatory capture, pressure-group activity, constitutional design, voting paradoxes and the economics of bureaucracies. The symposium is designed for undergraduate, honours and postgraduate students, but all parties who are interested in contemplating ‘politics without the romance’ are welcome.  It is non-partisan in nature, and a critical and contrary tone is encouraged, if not celebrated.

The UNDA Public Choice Symposium in 2019 is specifically devoted to exploring James Buchanan’s life and contributions to the discipline of economics. Buchanan was one of the key founders of the sub-discipline of public choice theory and was awarded the Nobel Prize for economics in 1986 for his contributions to this domain.  His collected works, which amount to some twenty substantial volumes, contained nuanced and revolutionary ideas that impressed even those of his generation who disagreed with his political vision. Buchanan’s easy charm, herculean work-ethic and willingness to help others in their research endeavours also induced great loyalty amongst his co-workers and students. He was not surprisingly widely respected and celebrated at the time of his death in 2013.  In more recent years, however, the increasing polarisation of the political debate in the United States has led some non-economists who lack an understanding of public choice theory to paint Buchanan in a less than pleasing light.  One academic even suggested that Buchanan wished to place ‘democracy in chains’ through surreptitious means.  The task of the 2019 Symposium is to invite those who either personally knew Buchanan or are deeply versed in his economic writings to separate the fact from the fiction and the truth from the calumnies, and thereby to present a more balanced picture of the man and his ideas.  An intellectual biography will be presented in miniature that is neither hagiographical nor slanderous.

The 2019 Symposium is to be held on Tuesday July 16 on the Fremantle Campus of The University of Notre Dame Australia.  The invited speakers include William Coleman (ANU), Geoffrey Brennan (ANU/Duke University), Mike Munger (Duke University), Michael McLure (UWA), and Jonathan Pincus (University of Adelaide).

Register now

Angela Ifkovich
Symposium Administrative Officer
The University of Notre Dame Australia
19 Mouat Street (PO Box 1225)
Fremantle WA 6959

Tel: +61 8 9433 0925
Fax: +61 8 9433 0640

For further details, please contact:

Gregory C. G. Moore
Co-Chair of the Symposium Committee 2019

The University of Notre Dame, Australia
Fremantle, Western Australia 6959
Tel: +61 8 9433 0914
Fax: +61 8 9433 0640
Geoffrey Brennan
Co-Chair of the Symposium Committee 2019

Australian National University.
Centre for Moral, Social and Political Theory.
Canberra, ACT.