The Calculus of Consent is divided into four parts, each consisting of several chapters. The introduction by Professor Rowley provides a short overview of the book and identifies key insights that permeated the bounds of economics and political science and created an enduring nexus between the two sciences. Part I of The Calculus of Consent establishes the conceptual framework of the book’s subject; part II defines the realm of social choice; part III applies the logic developed in part II to describe a range of decision-making rules, most notably, the rule of simple majority; while part IV explores the economics and ethics of democracy.
"Most attempts to examine the role of pressure groups have bogged down in their efforts to define the “public interest.” If this cannot, in fact, be defined, it becomes impossible to determine, even conceptually, the extent to which the activity of special-interest groups either advances or retards progress toward the “general welfare.” Analysis becomes impossible without a well-defined criterion. Our essentially economic approach to the political process is useful in that it allows us to escape from the ambiguities surrounding the concept of the public interest. The literature of modern welfare economics is especially helpful in this respect. The discussion in this field has clarified some of the more troublesome issues that seem to arise."
Gordon Tullock (1922) is University Professor of Law and Economics and Distinguished Research Fellow in the James M. Buchanan Center for Political Economy at George Mason University. He holds a joint teaching position in the Department of Economics and the School of Law. Professor Tullock received a J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1947. Tullock is one of the fathers of public choice theory.