Thursday, 17 July 2014

Forum on McCloskey

The Liberty Fund via its Online Library of Liberty site hosts a "Liberty Matters" forum which currently consists of a discussion of Deirdre McCloskey's two recent books Bourgeois Virtues (2006) and Bourgeois Dignity (2010). There is a Lead Essay by Don Boudreaux, "Deirdre McCloskey and Economists’ Ideas about Ideas", and comments by Joel Mokyr and John Nye, and replies to her critics by McCloskey.
The key issue is to try to explain why “the Great Enrichment” of the past 150 years occurred in northern and western Europe rather than elsewhere, and why sometime in the middle of the 18th century. Other theories have attributed it to the presence of natural resources, the existence of private property and the rule of law, and the right legal and political institutions. McCloskey’s thesis is that a fundamental change in ideas took place which raised the “dignity” of economic activity in the eyes of people to the point where they felt no inhibition in pursuing these activities which improved the situation of both themselves and the customers who bought their products and services.
The conversation following on from the lead article and comments is available here. All interesting stuff, well worth the time to read.

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