Arnold Kling  

Libertarianism at Harvard

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Jeff Miron, another Bernie-Saffran-influenced economist, is teaching a course on libertarianism at Harvard. The lecture notes are available in pdf format. One of the papers on the reading list for the course, is an article by Miron questioning the case for public support for universities.


the bulk of the benefit, in the form of income from specialized skills, is likely to be captured privately. It’s true that liberal arts training is less directed at preparation for a specific occupation, but the spillovers from studying Shakespeare are less compelling than the spillovers from learning to count or read ballot
instructions.

Thanks to Newmark's Door for the pointer.

For Discussion. Is the existence of this course evidence against the thesis of liberal bias at colleges? Or in the absence of bias would this course simply be called "mainstream economics?"


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TRACKBACKS (3 to date)
TrackBack URL: http://econlog.econlib.org/mt/mt-tb.cgi/245
The author at Mises Economics Blog in a related article titled Libertarianism of a sort writes:
    It does seem to be a challenge to put together a course on libertarianism and economics without drawing students' attention to the work of Rothbard, Hazlitt, Mises, Hayek, Jefferson, Spooner, Sumner, Boetie, and on and on, to say nothing of... [Tracked on April 26, 2005 10:02 AM]
COMMENTS (5 to date)
Randy writes:

I'm really not that concerned by liberal bias on college campuses. The Jesuits produced all the best Atheists.

David Thomson writes:

I’ve long ago concluded that it is safe to assume that anyone possessing a soft science Ph.D. is probably an idiot. There are some exceptions, but one should normally go with the general rule. In most instances, one has to be an intellectual slut to “earn” this degree. Once can only hope that more Americans realizes this harsh fact. The silly John Kenneth Galbraith is still honored by numerous academic economists. What more do I need to add? The prosecution rests its case.

Lawrance George Lux writes:

A course on Libertarianism at Havard could be construed as a Case of Conservative bias against Liberalism. I think it remains simple mainstream economics, until they start teaching mydraid courses on von Mises. lgl

Tony Vila writes:

What the?

1. "A course on libertarianism" should not be construed as moving in the direction of libertarian influence at the school, this is kinda the problem with all this "there's leftist biases!" One would hope this is an objective outlook, and not proseltyizing the students. One would even hope Miron provides plenty of critical commentary.

2. Arnold keeps far too quickly jumping into bed with the chicken little's of leftist bias, who use largely anti-intellectualism. Suffice it to say, the random abstract things Miron (or even Hoppe) suggests get them labelled "eggheads" and reviled/ignored by the political foundations that create Horowitz just as much as anyone else.

3. Equating libertarianism with mainstream economics is a bit troubling. I mean, both because while you may be part of a libertarian economic school, there's a lot more to economic thought than unadulterated libertarianism. But more so, there's a lot more to libertarianism than economics. Moral basis for rights libertarianism, rejection of social mores, political organization, examining it as a political phenomenon, etc. Our founding father who said the most about libertarianism (Jefferson) was the dialectical opposite of the one that said the most about economics (Hamilton).

4. Have you even heard of Harvard's economics department? I do not know a man more libertarian than Ed Glaeser, and he'd be proud to hear of that. Of course, he only teaches the two advanced introductory economics classes there. The basic introductory economics class there is by that leftie Martin Feldstein.

David Peterson writes:

I didn't see a sylabus, but I would hope that Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State and Utopia is featured promonently in the class.

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