Wednesday, January 9, 2013

James Buchanan

James M. Buchanan, Nobel Laureate in 1986 for his work in public choice, has passed away at the age of 93. The New York Times reports on his death here.

I recall Buchanan presenting a seminar in the Department of Economics at the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) around 1990 or 1991. It was a great seminar, but what stands out most for me is the question period that followed his presentation.

A question was posed, which Buchanan answered in a clear and convincing way. An M.A. student then raised his hand and commented that he thought that the answer to the question should really be  quite different to what Buchanan had said. After thinking for a moment, Buchanan smiled, and said: "You know, I think your answer is much better than the one that I gave".

Everyone in attendance was mightily impressed - by our speaker's humility.

© 2012, David E. Giles

1 comment:

  1. one might ask why this sort of humility doesn't seem to extend to the ideas offered by economists for public consumption
    When I read stuff for ordinary people like myself, by economists from Krguman rightward, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of doubt or uncertainty.