A Retrospective Analysis of Thomas Hobbes' Contributions to the Contemporary Theory of Public Choice
The contemporary theory of public choice economics agrees with the rational, self-interested, disposition of man described by the political philosopher Thomas Hobbes. However, while the origins of public choice theory can be traced to Hobbes, public choice theory does not agree with all of the conclusions drawn by Hobbes; the most notable disagreement centers on the idea of a Leviathan. While Hobbes desires to install a government that protects man from his own passions and self-interest; public choice economists find this argument inherently flawed due to its inefficient and unrealistic premises. Based on the assumptions already concluded about the self-interested nature of man, public choice economists argue that man does not need the interference of other men to “protect him from himself.” Public choice economists condemn theories that evolve out of fear, (such as Leviathan) in favor of smaller, collective, theories that thrive on self-interest. Ultimately, public choice economists argue that government which encourages self-interest, in turn, provides the best protection of individual property rights. Property rights are, as argued by the Enlightenment political theorists whose influence helped to form this nation, not only the yardstick of civilization amongst any collective group, but in fact, the primary purpose for the existence of a government in the first place. Thus, the goal of this paper is to distinguish the variables that lead into the summation of the decision-making process of rational, self-interested, Hobbesian man within the political realm; because the framers understood the Hobbesian nature of man this subsequently validates the necessity of public choice economics.