Friday , October 18 2019
Home / Tag Archives: Economic Philosophy

Tag Archives: Economic Philosophy

Build, Barbara, Build: Reflections on Nickel and Dimed

I finally read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, and was pleasantly surprised.  Her runaway best-seller is what researchers call “radical ethnography”; to study low-skilled workers in America, Ehrenreich became a low-skilled worker in America.  Ehrenreich mostly just walks us through her experiment: how she found work, where she lived, what the jobs were like, how she made ends meet.  While there’s ideological commentary throughout, she’s less preachy than most...

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Did Sustainable Atlas Shrug?

Ayn Rand’s 1957 philosophical novel Atlas Shrugged may not be a literary masterpiece or the last word in political theory, but it does hold some lessons. It tells the story of very productive and creative individuals who, harassed by politicians and bureaucrats, shrugged and retired in their own secret anarchic community. The rest of the world suffered. These days, more than one million Californians have suffered from prophylactic power cuts meant to prevent falling...

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They Know Better

Moral reasoning is hard.  It’s so hard, in fact, that most people do little moral reasoning.  Instead, as Daniel Kahneman would expect, they perform a mental substitution.  Rather than wonder, “What’s morally right?,” they ask, “What’s socially acceptable?” In decent societies, this seems fairly harmless.  When your society is even selectively evil, however, the substitution is disastrous.  Strictly following standard social norms in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, or...

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An Ode to Amazon

I’ve already praised Amazon to the skies: “Amazon is simply the best store that ever existed, by far, with incredible selection and unearthly convenience.”  Recently, however, Amazon managed to exceed my sky-high expectations. Over the last few months, my Sony Blu-Ray player has been losing streaming services one after the other.  Apparently I’m such a dinosaur that Hulu can’t be bothered to update my software.  Such is the price of progress… Last week, Amazon joined...

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The Not-So-Just World Hypothesis

I’ve long been skeptical of what psychologists call the Just World Hypothesis.  A standard statement: [T]he just-world hypothesis is the tendency to attribute consequences to—or expect consequences as the result of—a universal force that restores moral balance. This belief generally implies the existence of cosmic justice, destiny, divine providence, desert, stability, and/or order, and is often associated with a variety of fundamental fallacies, especially in regards...

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Terrorism vs. Just War Theory

I was planning to write an original piece on this topic, but soon discovered that better work already existed.  Most notably, here’s a summary of a talk Michael Walzer delivered in 2007.  It starts with some boilerplate: Whether terrorism is wrong is a question that is often answered badly or at least inadequately, according to Walzer, who defines terrorism as the random killing of innocent people, in the hope of creating pervasive fear. “Randomness and innocence are...

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Malevolence and Misunderstanding

Lancelot:  Your rage has unbalanced you. You, sir, would fight to the death, against a knight who is not your enemy. Over a stretch of road you could easily ride around. Arthur:   So be it. To the death!                —Excalibur Question #1: How many times in your life have you lost a friend because one of you malevolently decided to hurt to the other? Question #2: How many times in your life have you lost a friend over a misunderstanding? I am glad to report that I...

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Michael Grossberg on Libertarian Futurism and Pretty Much Everything

I’m not big on libertarian futurism or on science fiction. I’m not bragging. On the contrary, I think it’s due to my lack of imagination. So when I recommend an interview on the Libertarian Futurist Society’s (LFS) Prometheus Blog, you can be fairly confident that it would interest not just libertarian futurists but also libertarians and maybe even an audience broader than that. I highly recommend the blog’s interview with LFS founder Michael Grossberg. (I knew...

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You’re All A Bunch of Socialists

A fun figure from Tetlock et al.’s “The Psychology of the Unthinkable.”  Possible level of outrage ranges from 1-7, 7 being highest. Background: Participants were told that the goal of the study was to explore the attitudes that Americans have about what people should be allowed to buy and sell in competitive market transactions: Imagine that you had the power to judge the permissibility and morality of each transaction listed below. Would you allow people to enter...

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Arnold Kling’s ex-Communist Mother’s Testimony

Arnold Kling, who previously was a mainstay of EconLog and now has his own blog, posted this morning with a link to his mother’s fascinating testimony before a St. Louis meeting of the famous House Unamerican Activities Committee. His mother, Anne Ruth Kling, nee Yasgur, had been a member of the Communist Party during and slightly after World War II. That in itself I find fascinating. My mother, who died in 1969 while I was forming my political views, told me that...

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