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Tag Archives: Economic Philosophy

Law is Hell

Huemer’s new Justice before the Law is full of memorable passages, but this is the one that stayed with me: There are few threats more frightening to Americans than the threat to embroil someone in legal trouble. An illustrative case occurred at a nursing home in California in 2013. An 87-year-old woman living at the facility had stopped breathing, and a nurse on staff called 911, the local emergency services. The 911 dispatcher pleaded with the nurse to start CPR,...

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Hayek on Responsibility for One’s Fate

Maybe you “didn’t build that” entirely on your own, but if you act as if you did, you probably will build more. It is often contended that the belief that a person is solely responsible for his own fate is held only by the successful. This in itself is not so unacceptable as its underlying suggestion, which is that people hold this belief because they have been successful. I, for one, am inclined to think that the connection is the other way round and that people...

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How Thoughtful Torture Beats Plea Bargaining

Mike Huemer’s new Justice before the Law is predictably excellent. I’ll eventually discuss it in greater depth, but for now I’ll focus on Huemer’s critique of plea bargaining.  The heart of the critique is that plea bargaining is coerced confession: It is universally agreed in legal theory that coerced confessions are unacceptable. The main reason is that to accept coerced confessions would conflict with the central purpose of the court system… Coerced confessions do...

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As Bitter As It Is Illuminating

Co: Why did they pick you? Because you like to fight? Rambo: I’m expendable. Co: What mean expendable? Rambo: It’s like someone invites you to a party and you don’t show up. It doesn’t really matter. —Rambo: First Blood, Part II “Leave no man behind.”  This slogan is the peak of military romanticism.  No matter how much you suffer for the cause, you are never alone.  You belong to an unbreakable brotherhood of blood. “I’m expendable.”  This admission is the peak...

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Hungarian Events

1. Tomorrow, October 19, I’m virtually visiting Hungary to debate immigration with Balázs Orbán and András Kováts.  Airing live at 11 AM ET, 5 PM Hungarian time.  Here’s Orbán’s (not that Orbán, but they do work together) take on Facebook: 2. October 28, I’m physically visiting the University Chicago to discuss education with Agnes Callard – who also turns out to be… Hungarian!  From this biographical interview: I was born in Budapest, Hungary and left there with my...

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Knowledge, Reality, and Value Book Club: Huemer’s Last Word, Part 2

Here’s Part 2 of Huemer’s final word on our recent Book Club. 9) On consent and my paradox for moderate deontology: BC:      How is this different from a person who foolishly refuses to consent to a vaccination, even though he admits that the benefit of the vaccine greatly exceeds the pain of the needle? As you explain in The Problem of Political Authority, we have no right to benefit him given his explicit refusal to consent. I’m on board with the idea that it’s...

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The Continuum Between Liberalism and Anarchism

In a private comment on my Regulation review of Acemoglu and Robinson’s The Narrow Corridor, George Mason University professor Daniel Klein challenges the continuity I see between (classical) liberalism and anarchism. The contentious point was summarized in the last paragraph of my review: An improved and more useful study of the narrow corridor would, in my opinion, switch the normative positions of anarchy and the state. Instead of looking at how the state can...

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Knowledge, Reality, and Value Book Club: Huemer’s Last Word, Part 1

Here’s Part 1 of Huemer’s last word on Knowledge, Reality, and Value. Many thanks to Bryan Caplan for the extensive, thoughtful, and interesting discussions over the course of this Book Club. Thanks also to all the readers who contributed their thoughts. I found the discussion very high quality and serious. Bryan’s comments below, preceded by “BC”, followed by my replies. 1) On consequentialism vs. deontology in the history of ethics: BC:      Why doesn’t the Ring of...

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The $1 Trillion Platinum Coin

A non-economist friend emailed me yesterday and asked me to explain the proposal for a $1 trillion platinum coin. The proposal is that the Treasury mint a coin with a face value of $1 trillion and sell it to the Federal Reserve for $1 trillion. That way the Treasury gets an additional $1 trillion without the federal debt going up at all. It’s a way around the ceiling on the federal debt. According to Paul Krugman, who advocates such a coin, this provision of the...

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