Alberto Mingardi  

Anthony de Jasay awarded the ECAEF Prize

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Labor Econ Versus the World: E... No More Stiglers...

Anthony de Jasay has been awarded the first "ECAEF Prize for Thinkers for the 3rd Millennium". This is a much deserved recognition, for de Jasay has set a standard for clarity of thought that is seldom matched by others.

Regarding the award,the European Center for Austrian Economics Foundation emphasises de Jasay's "seminal and exceptional works on defending individual liberty by challenging the legitimacy of states and unchecked 'democratic' governments." Anthony de Jasay.jpg

Indeed, a good part of de Jasay's writings offer a remedy to what he considers the "loss of identity, loss of moral vigor, and vulnerability to dilution" of liberalism in modern times, to quote from his "Before Resorting to Politics", now included in "Against Politics" (a collection that includes many formidable articles).

De Jasay's shorter, brilliant pieces are hosted on this very website. His column on EconLib is titled "Thinking Straight," which is what he always wanted to do, and perhaps to persuade others to do so, too.

I thought the best way to celebrate this well-deserved award is reading a divertissement by de Jasay published a few years ago in his "Justice and Its Surroundings." It may well be the shortest piece he has ever written. Its irony is as brilliant as it is dense. I don't know about you, but upon reading it a second time, I felt the need of reading it a third time.


EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE

Throughout its history, humanity has permanently displayed a physical condition classified in ordinary language as "illness" or "disease." There has always been what Hume would call a "constant conjunction" between human life and illness.

The Hobbesian hypothesis that illness is a necessary condition of the survival of the human species has strong empirical support. It has never been falsified.

Throughout its history, humanity has permanently displayed a social condition classified in ordinary language as "the state" or "government." There has always been what Hume would call a "constant conjunction" between human society and government.
The Hobbesian hypothesis that government is a necessary condition of social life has strong empirical support. It has never been falsified.

Arguments in favor of the prevention or eradication of disease are evidently misguided and may be dangerous. They are often put forward by naive persons with little understanding of reality.

Arguments in favor of fostering society's capacity to evolve anarchic orders and live with less or no government are evidently misguided and may be dangerous. They are often put forward by naive persons with little understanding of reality.


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CATEGORIES: Liberty




COMMENTS (3 to date)

beautiful essay

Philo writes:

Even a little bit of disease is bad, but some would say that a little bit of government is better than none at all--we just don't want *too much*.

Pajser writes:

I've read few de Jasay's articles on inequality, it is essential issue. It appears that many of de Jasay's conclusions are logical fallacies. For instance, in "The Millstones of Egalitarianism, Part II." de Jasay writes "Economic facts of life generate inequalities due mainly to human endowments being unequal." For sake of discussion, I'll assume it is true for market economy. De Jasay's conclusions and my comments in parentheses follow.

"Inequalities cause growth and vice versa because they favour capital accumulation." (Generalized from market economy on all kinds of economy without explanation.)

"The conclusion strongly suggests itself that inequality is the best or perhaps the only way out of mass poverty, while an equal distribution would leave everybody permanently in the same poverty they suffer at present." (Non sequitur. The second claim is provably false, for instance experience of kibbutzim)

"This line of reasoning used to be opposed by "scientific" socialism which claimed that a rationally planned economy with "production for needs, not for profit" performs better. This claim is now almost stone dead ... (Ad populum.)

"Egalitarian distributions, used to the millstones, may or may not score better in terms of "total utility" or happiness, but there is no earthly way of telling by any objective measure whether this is so or not. (The claim is not obvious and De Jasay do not try to prove it. )

"Finally, it has been affirmed that ... unequal consequences... cannot be morally defended. However, such consequences are not in need of being morally defended except perhaps if some moral blame attached to their causes—a... " (It doesn't need to be shown that unegalitarian distribution is morally bad; it is enough to show that egalitarian distribution is morally better.)

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