Accordingly, this essay explores some unappreciated benefits of discussion. While educators frequently favor discussion as a means to encouraging engaged learning, they nonetheless rarely attempt to explain how or why these benefits arise. More than this, the role of economists from Adam Smith through Frank Knight and his student, James Buchanan, in explaining the benefits associated with discussion has been neglected both within economics and throughout the academy. In this tradition one accepts the inevitability of an individual "point of view" and the good society is one that can govern itself by means of an emergent consensus among points of view. In this chapter we demonstrate that beginning with Smith and continuing through the experimental economists and Amartya Sen, economists have expounded upon the rich moral and material benefits associated with discussion - benefits that contribute to a well-governed social order. To emphasize the common themes in this neglected tradition, we shall refer to it as the "discussion tradition."

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Copyright © 2015 Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. This chapter first appeared in Liberal Learning and the Art of Self-Governance.

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