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  1. McCloskey's 1988 Letter Responding to a Letter from the President of Penn State

    • shudder not “shutter”

    • Posted 02 Nov 2023 by Jon Nelson
  2. McCloskey's 1988 Letter Responding to a Letter from the President of Penn State

    • I was one of two Economics faculty who were involved with this sordid incident back in 1988. The student who complained was in my course. I’ll provide some context beyond the two letters. First, the course was in “microeconomic theory” for first-year graduate students, with intro calculus. Nicholson was the main text used. It was not a “price theory” course in the Chicago-sense, but McCloskey’s book was assigned to give students broader exposure to thinking like an economist. I never discussed the economic of slavery or the economics of discrimination. Second, the student in question was an older Black female, whose home department was Business Finance (econ is in Liberal Arts). She did poorly in the course although i believe the incident in question started before final grades were handed out. Third, Penn State is a top-down institution and handled the issue as such. The Finance department investigated my background and the book, but never contacted me. The Liberal Arts Dean (Hart Nelsen, sociology) did meet with me — it was clear he knew my wife is not White (she is Asian and we are now married for 56 years). My department head may have met with me (bad memory here), and i think did the best he could to deflect the incident. Most troubling was a meeting with some Black student organization, which was recorded. The President’s representative at that meeting was visibly upset we were not down on our knees. People would walk into the meeting to make a political statement, and depart without further comment or discussion. Fourth, in the end, the issue seemed to blow over, but not without threats of outside intervention. Some strange incidents also followed in my other courses. Fifth, I shutter to think what would happen in today’s college environment. McCloskey’s letter nails it for me. Bryce Jordan was a cowardly bully of the first degree.(his background is musicology — Yikes).My final take always was McCloskey;s comment that “we all come from slave backgrounds, which makes it all the more important to understand the economics of slavery.” I’m pretty sure my immigrant ancestors and those of my wife would understand the meaning of this statement. I know what it was like to be treated as a faculty minion.

    • Posted 02 Nov 2023 by Jon Nelson
  3. Dissing "The Theory of Moral Sentiments": Twenty-Six Critics, from 1765 to 1949

    • Eugene F. Miller, Editor’s Note, Hume’s Essays (LF), p. xxvii:

      “Many years ago, while a doctoral student under the Committee [on Social Thought, at the U of Chicago], I first studied Hume’s writings in research that was guided by Friedrich A. Hayek, Leo Strauss, and Joseph Cropsey. The Committee on Social Thought, more than any academic program that I know of, has sought to recover the unity and comprehensiveness of human knowledge that was lost after Hume’s time, with the division of learning into departments or disciplines.”

    • Posted 31 Jan 2023 by Daniel Klein
  4. Hemma bast

    • This is an interesting article, and though I certainly understand the arguments and the existence of a trade-off between using English and the local majority language in higher education, I think there are additional benefits associated with using English other than the ability to disseminate one’s research to an international audience and preparing a small minority of students for a globalized labor market.
      My practical experience of this is as a professor who uses English to teach students in a Taiwanese MBA program. As the authors note, the obvious benefit of using English is greater opportunities for international collaborations and interactions. Now, obviously, it would be easier (in one sense) for the domestic students (about 50% of the total) to interact in Chinese than in English. And it would also make it easier to do research on local conditions, and the difference is arguably greater when the languages are from different language families. But there are also some other factors to consider that seem as important as the ones mentioned in the paper:
      1 The effects on teacher-student interaction depend on the cultural context. While Taiwanese students as a rule speak better Chinese than English, they tend to be more reluctant to have informal discussions in Chinese. This is related to more “hierarchical” traditions in which students are not supposed to ask questions. Thus in certain contexts, English may encourage more interactivity (this is generally true in most parts of Asia).
      2 There is also the hypothesis – and there is empirical research that supports this – that the experience of cognitive dissonance stimulates creativity. Using a foreign language may increase cognitive dissonance and thus make them more open to new ways of thinking about various problems.
      3 As a teacher, I have found that classroom discussions become much more interesting and insightful if there are students with dissimilar cultural backgrounds in the same class. Using Chinese instead of English would (almost) eliminate participation by students from other backgrounds (our international students take classes in Chinese, but their Chinese is with few exceptions at a much lower level of proficiency than the English spoken by our domestic students). Indeed, one of the main reasons that we promote English and recruit foreign students is that we want more classroom interactivity.
      4 Exposing domestic students to foreign professors may be desirable in itself. It is obviously in my self-interest to claim this, but there is a growing realization here that it is easier to break out of the local preference for learning-by-memorization if the teacher is from a cultural background where rote learning is less common than here (again, this is a common problem in many Asian contexts). Note that most of the internationally recruited professors would not be here if they had to interact with students or at meetings in another language than English.

      In some ways, I think the authors assume that the education system should adjust to the state of the environment as it is. But what if the aim is to contribute to a transformation of society? For example, one aim could be to make it more probable that students embark on an international career than otherwise, while simultaneously increasing the attractiveness of the locality of the educational institution as a destination for skilled workers from elsewhere.

    • Posted 08 Oct 2022 by David Emanuel Andersson
  5. To Tolerant England and a Pension from the King: Did Hume Subconsciously Aim to Subvert Rousseau's Legacy?

    • This day 31 Aug 2022 we revised the pdfs to make rectify our reproduction of the 1826 error—that is, we’ve changed “myself” to “yourself.” Thank you again Professor Tasset!

    • Posted 31 Aug 2022 by Daniel Klein
  6. The Importance of Analyzing Public Mass Shooters Separately from Other Attackers When Estimating the Prevalence of Their Behavior Worldwide

    • Ok. So the US is the worst country in the world for mass shootings. Why? There’s a reason. It isn’t gun ownership. That doesn’t make sense because we have always been a nation of gun owners. Something changed in our history. I posit that it is our media coverage that is the primary difference. At some point in our history, the media decided that it was more important to sell coverage than it was to report news. At that point, the sensationalism of news media became the tipping point that has fueled this shooting frenzy. Of course I can’t prove it. Hence, the term “posit”. If we look around, though, we are the only nation in the world that combines guns with news sensationalism. That is the deadly combination. Let’s just think about that for a moment and see what we come up with. Thoughts?

    • Posted 11 Jul 2022 by Jason Kilgrow
  7. Misrepresenting Mises: Quotation Editing and a Rejection of Peer Review at Cambridge University Press

    • A good exposée of ideological bias in academic publishing.

    • Posted 11 Jul 2022 by Oscar Valdez
  8. To Tolerant England and a Pension from the King: Did Hume Subconsciously Aim to Subvert Rousseau's Legacy?

    • Outstanding, thank you so much Professor Tasset. We are reproducing both pieces in a volume from CL Press, and we are making the correction. The erroneous “I mean myself” is in the 1826 Hume edition, the text of which was used by Project Gutenberg, which is where we lifted the English translations of Rousseau from. Thank you again!

    • Posted 02 Jul 2022 by Daniel Klein
  9. Hume's Manuscript Account of the Extraordinary Affair Between Him and Rousseau

    • Outstanding, thank you so much Professor Tasset. We are reproducing both pieces in a volume from CL Press, and we are making the correction. The erroneous “I mean myself” is in the 1826 Hume edition, the text of which was used by Project Gutenberg, which is where we lifted the English translations of Rousseau from. Thank you again!

    • Posted 02 Jul 2022 by Daniel Klein
  10. To Tolerant England and a Pension from the King: Did Hume Subconsciously Aim to Subvert Rousseau's Legacy?

    • Dear colleagues:
      I’m a Spanish Hume’s scholar and I’m working at that precise moment in the first Spanish translation of CGA by Hume. First, many thanks for making public a copy of Hume’s MS at BNS.
      Only a brief comment: in my opinion there is an important change in transcription of the letter of June 23rd because where the original text of MS (page 30) says “c’est vous même” your version says precisely the opposite “I know one man, however, whom you can not deceive; I mean myself.” (your ed. MS, p. 298). The 1766 French original version (p. 47) and the English original version (p. 29) correctly transcribe this text, as the original MS. French and Italian present editions do the same.
      The failure I think is very relevant because Rousseau rhetorically depersonalizes Hume, turning him into a third person who attends the accusation process, in astonishment, being at the same time accused, judge and witness. All of this is lost with this transcription from Hume’s original MS.
      This mistaken quote is also repeated at the beginning of the paper by Klein (“To Tolerant England and a Pension from the King: Did Hume Subconsciously Aim to Subvert Rousseau’s Legacy?”).
      I thought it could be of interest for you.
      Yours sincerely,
      José L. Tasset, Professor of A Corunna University, Spain.

    • Posted 28 Dec 2021 by Jose Tasset
  11. Hume's Manuscript Account of the Extraordinary Affair Between Him and Rousseau

    • Dear colleagues:

      I’m a Spanish Hume’s scholar and I’m working at that precise moment in the first Spanish edition of CGA by Hume.

      First, many thanks for making public a copy of Hume’s MS at BNS.

      Only a brief comment: in my opinion there is an important change in transcription of the letter of June 23rd because where the original text of MS (page 30) says “c’est vous même” your version says precisely the opposite “I know one man, however, whom you can not deceive; I mean myself.” (your ed. MS, p. 298). The 1766 French original version (p. 47) and the English original version (p. 29) correctly transcribe this text, as the original MS. French and Italian present editions do the same.

      The change I think is very relevant because Rousseau rhetorically depersonalizes Hume, turning him into a third person who attends the accusation process, in astonishment, being at the same time accused, judge and witness. All of this is lost with this transcription from Hume’s original MS.

      This mistaken quote is also repeated at the beginning of the paper by Klein (“To Tolerant England and a Pension from the King: Did Hume Subconsciously Aim to Subvert Rousseau’s Legacy?”).

      I thought it could be of interest for you.

      Yours sincerely,
      José L. Tasset, Professor of A Corunna University, Spain.

    • Posted 28 Dec 2021 by Jose Tasset
  12. The Stewart Retractions: A Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis

    • It is incredible that this is not front page news for all sociologists and the cause of pushes for institutional reforms in the direction of open science. Every psychologist knowns the name Diedrik Stapel now, and his actions were central to the massive reforms that took place. Granted that Eric Stewart was not as famous or had as much grant funding throughout his career, but he certainly was a name in sociology.

    • Posted 08 Oct 2021 by Nate Breznau
  13. Confirmation That the United States Has Six Times Its Global Share of Public Mass Shooters, Courtesy of Lott and Moody's Data

    • Amazing how everything Lankford claims has so easily been demonstrated to be false. Any academic that refuses to show his data and methodology is already suspect.

    • Posted 24 Mar 2021 by Thomas Cottone
  14. Confirmation That the United States Has Six Times Its Global Share of Public Mass Shooters, Courtesy of Lott and Moody's Data

    • This article as well as his 2016 findings are lies. It has been debunked by multiple sources.

    • Posted 25 Feb 2020 by Blake Spencer
  15. Dissing "The Theory of Moral Sentiments": Twenty-Six Critics, from 1765 to 1949

    • Another TMS disser is J.M. Robertson, A Short History of Morals (London: Watts & Co., 1920): 326-338. Robertson says repeatedly that Smith strings together ideas and claims that do not cohere:

      “Smith, to whom Dugald Stewart ascribed a ‘singular consistency’ in his philosophical principles, fails to sustain that panegyric even in the WEALTH OF NATIONS; and in the THEORY he is still further from earning it” (326).

      “he merely puts his own doctrine in a series of statements which it is hardly possible to co-ordinate..What he really does is to put a series of disparate propositions” (327).

      “The trouble with Smith is that he suffers from the defect (so incident to book-makers) of intellectual myopia. He sees one facet of a problem at a tiime, concentrates on that, and then passes on to another, never reaching a comprehensive view of the whole” (334).

      “Smith’s system remained incomplete and inconsistent” (337).

      Meanwhile, Robertson suggests that underneath the farrago is a system “founded in self-regard” (332):

      After quoting Smith, Robertson remarks: “It would be difficult to reduce sympathy more plainly to a self-regarding foundation, after a parade of a priori altruism” (332).

      “The fact is that, though Smith gives to his ‘system’ the air of being contrary to the so-called ‘selfish theory’ mainly by the use of the word ‘sympathy,’ which carries the general connotation of altruism while really containing for his argument only the idea of <i>consent</i>, he is constantly explaining human actioin in terms of <i>antipathy</i>, to which, in his argument, sympathy is secondary and ancillary. And antiipathy, obviously, is founded in self-regard” (332).

      Robertson writes:

      “Again and again he shows how contracted, how conventional, how often merely customary, is the ethic of sympathy which he is formulating” (333). He suggests that Smith might have simplified his teaching by treating sympathy as “the <i>purification</i> of the current nationalized and racialized moral codes” (335).

      Robertson concludes the discussion of Smith with the following:

      “Decidedly the fabling bee, Mandeville, had left his sting in the optimist. The total result is bizarre. Whereas the professed pessimist puts a quasi-optimistic formula in which private vices work public good, the optimist puts one in which the temper necessary to conserve society is the great source of moral corruption. And it would be hard to show that the second is not the more pessimistic of the two—if there be any fundamental difference” (338).

      Robertson has no appreciation of Smith’s non-foundationalism. Figuring that the charitable way to read Smith is to try to ascribe some kind of ethical foundation to his work, he ascribes a “self-regarding” foundation.

    • Posted 08 Aug 2019 by Daniel Klein
  16. Rent Control: Do Economists Agree?

  17. Dissing "The Theory of Moral Sentiments": Twenty-Six Critics, from 1765 to 1949

    • Glory Liu kindly brought to my attention a review of TMS, on the occasion of an 1817 Boston edition, by Levi Frisbie (1783-1822) in the North-American Review 8(23), 1819: 371-396. The piece is republished in an 1823 volume of Frisbie’s miscellaneous writings, edited by Andrew Norton. The piece too should be quoted in the compilation. For example, Frisbie writes: “And that can never be an ultimate standard, which is itself to be judged by one more so” (382).

    • Posted 23 Jan 2019 by Daniel Klein
  18. Dissing "The Theory of Moral Sentiments": Twenty-Six Critics, from 1765 to 1949

    • I cited Emma Rothschild 2004 for support on Smith as non-foundationalist. I would have done well to cite also her Economic Sentiments (HUP, 2001), 231, 238.

    • Posted 04 Dec 2018 by Daniel Klein
  19. Dissing "The Theory of Moral Sentiments": Twenty-Six Critics, from 1765 to 1949

    • On “Circa 1800,” another two thoughts:

      1. Deirdre McCloskey. 2008. Adam Smith, the Last of the Former Virtue Ethicists. History of Political Economy 40(1): 43-71, maintains that Smith was more or less the last to treat ethics in terms of virtues.

      2. In the decade or so after Smith’s death, natural jurisprudence was no longer taught in the Scottish universities. See pp. 314-316, implicating Dugald Stewart, of James Moore. 2006. Natural Rights in the Scottish Enlightenment. In Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought, eds M. Goldie and R. Wokler. CUP: 291-316.

    • Posted 24 Nov 2018 by Daniel Klein
  20. Hayek’s Divorce and Move to Chicago

    • Very nice article. It seems Hayek was a rogue who cheated on his wife and wanted to abandon her and his children and have his friend Robbins support them. That does not detract from Hayek’s greatness as a scholar, except perhaps for casting doubt on his judgement about the importance of laws and norms supporting the family, which was surely clouded by wanting to justify his own selfish and agreement-breaking behavior.

    • Posted 07 Oct 2018 by Eric Rasmusen

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