Duncan Black: Heir to Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment

Duncan Black, like Adam Smith before him, was trained at, and taught at, the University of Glasgow. This paper explores Black’s legacy of politics and concludes that it looks much like that of Adam Smith’s for economics.

This article is open access

Pub. Date
04 January, 2024

Main Points

  • Black left a remarkable legacy with a theory of politics that looks in some ways quite like Smith’s theory of economics. Both built their theories on an account of individual preferences, and both sought social outcomes based on equilibriums.
  • Riker not only first saw the importance of Duncan Black’s work, but Riker was also able to see the result of Black’s specific project, even if it ended with a Rikerian version of democratic theory that is considered ‘thin’.