Duncan Black (1908–1991)
Duncan Black was born on May 23, 1908, in Motherwell, part of the industrial belt of central Scotland, located some 12 miles from Glasgow. He was raised in the quaint village of Tayvallich, Argyle, with its spectacular views of Loch Sween, in the same general area of Scotland. His father, a boiler-maker, was a Highlander, born in the Western Isle of Mull. His mother, a Motherwell Lowlander, owned a drapery and millinery shop until 1931, when the expansion of public transportation (buses) opened up the Glasgow stores to eager Motherwell shoppers and bankrupted her store (Rowley, 1991, p. 83).
According to Black’s former colleague Ronald Coase (1981), Black’s highly intelligent mother was the dominant influence in his life, followed by his Scottish Presbyterian upbringing. Both influences instilled in him a discipline and a work ethic absent which real scholarly achievement is all but unattainable. Black benefited from a rigorous and formal education then available for clever children of workingclass parents (McLean, McMillan, and Monroe, 1996, p. xvi). He graduated from Dalziel High School in 1926 and enrolled at the University of Glasgow to study mathematics and physics, graduating in 1929 with a mediocre second class honors Master of Arts degree (the M.A. is the first degree in Scotland). Black’s interest in logic and pure mathematics had been disappointed by a degree program in which the approach was much more practical, geared towards engineering students (Coase, 1981).
KeywordsPublic Choice Civil Service Majority Vote Condorcet Winner Committee Decision
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