Alberto Mingardi  

A 13 minute primer on DeirdreMcCloskeyanism

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I had the good fortune, in the last couple of weeks, to spend a good deal of time with Deirdre McCloskey. My Institute, Istituto Bruno Leoni, invited her to Italy for a series of seminars and lectures, including the keynote speech to our "Mises Seminar", a biannual event for young scholars and PhD students.

Bourgeois Virtues.jpg

While in Italy, Professor McCloskey was interviewed at length for a morning TV show, "L'aria che tira". The interview, realised by journalist Lorenzo Luzi, was very good and presents a nice summary of the McCloskeyan worldview on inequalities, progress, the problems with the Italian economy and what is needed to revive the "great enrichment".

The best comment on the interview came on Twitter: "Do yourself a favour, and listen to this woman's interview". I wholeheartedly agree.


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COMMENTS (4 to date)
R Richard Schweitzer writes:

McCloskey's two (so far) books (and some drafts)on the functions of the Bourgeois Concepts [basically, finding commonalities and establishing co-operations]require re-readings of their many, many words and references to arouse some further conclusions:

Virtues:

The Virtues, given labels and classifications, are expressions of individual motivations; in human conduct, in attitudes, reactions and responses to other sentient and non-sentient lives and matter, and to circumstance.

Individual motivations are formed initially, then further shaped within particular circumstances and conditions; such as family, clan and tribe.

McCloskey makes the case that the context which is described and defined as Bourgeois has specific effects upon the formations and development of individual motivations. Those effects are then experienced in economic history (and in social and civilization development) in events such as the Industrial Revolution ; and in Innovations which stem from the imaginations of individuals.

Roger McKinney writes:

McCloskey is great! I have read the first two books in her series on bourgeois virtues and highly recommend them.

North won the Nobel for his discover of the fact that institutions determine economic development.Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress edited by Lawrence E. Harrison and Samuel P. Huntington demonstrates that culture determines institutions.

McCloskey fleshes out the details of how values changed in the Dutch Republic to create the institutions that became known as capitalism and the inflection point in the hockey stick graph of percapita GDP.

R Richard Schweitzer writes:

Of course, each make take separate satisfactions from McCloskey's work. But it might be a bit of mis-interpretation to assert she espouses a view that:

. . . values changed in the Dutch Republic to create the institutions that became known as capitalism . . .

First of all, on close attention, McCloskey does not regard Capitalism (despite its terminology use) as an "ism;" that is, as a system of relationships with a specific set of social or economic objectives.

Next, accordingly, it does not appear that McCloskey would (or does) regard Capitalism as an Institution (in the D.C. North concept), but rather as a resulting condition, resulting from specific forms of human relationships determined by Virtues.

ThomasH writes:

Always having been a fan of Democratic Capitalism and ordinary Bourgeois Liberalism (and having grown up well after the time when socialism had much intellectual appeal), I never got too exited about McCloskey. She probably has more to say to certain currents in Europe.

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