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Bryan Caplan: July 2014

An Author Archive by Month (23 entries)

What Do Constitutions Do? Star Trek Edition

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Political scientist and game designer Chris McGlothlin has a neat Facebook post on Star Trek and the Constitution, building off the classic episode "The Omega Glory."  Here's Chris, reprinted with his permission:As both a political science professor and a Trekkie,... MORE

Huemer's Moderation

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Mike Huemer, to repeat, is my favorite philosopher.  Here are some highlights from his recent working paper, "Is Wealth Redistribution a Rights Violation?" [footnotes omitted]There are at least three broad views one might take concerning the foundation ofproperty rights:a. The... MORE

A Non-Conformist's Guide to Success in a Conformist World

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I've been a non-conformist for as long as I can remember.  "All the other kids love sports" never seemed like a good reason why I should feel - or pretend to feel - the same way.  "None of the other... MORE

The Economist on Overparenting

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Though I'm no fan of The Economist's editorials, their science coverage remains outstanding.  Check out their latest piece on overparenting.  You could say I'm biased because the piece draws so heavily on my work, but as a pedantic professor, you'd... MORE

Evolution and Moral Intuition

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When backed into a corner, most hard-line utilitarians concede that the standard counter-examples seem extremely persuasive.  They know they're supposed to think that pushing one fat man in front of a trolley to save five skinny kids is morally obligatory. ... MORE

What to Learn from The Catcher in the Rye

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I recently re-read J.D.Salinger's 1951 classic, The Catcher in the Rye, prompting Tyler to do the same.  My top reactions:1. Other than losing his brother Allie, Holden has no external problems.  He is a rich kid living in the most... MORE

Some Empirics of Moral Philosophy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
From the noble Jason Brennan:This reminds me further of a talk I saw at a recent free market conference. The presenter was talking about how most philosophers are nihilists who believe that morality is bogus nonsense. I said, "You'll be... MORE

Scott's Utilitarian Leniency

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Scott's recent posts on utilitarianism sent me digging for his doubts about open borders.  But if you read him literally, Scott never falters.My views on this are kind of hard to explain.  I am convinced by Bryan Caplan's arguments on... MORE

The Argument from Conscience

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The Argument from Hypocrisy (a close cousin of the "demandingness objection") is one of the strongest objections to utilitarianism.  (Strangely omitted from Scott's inventory).  The argument has two steps.Step 1. Note that utilitarianism implies extreme moral demands.  For example, maximizing... MORE

Endogenous Sexism Explained

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Several people in the comments got the point of my endogenous sexism scenario.  Namely: Friends pass a stricter selection filter than spouses of friends.  If you think poorly of someone, you won't be their friend.  But if you think poorly... MORE

Endogenous Sexism

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Suppose men and women are equally praiseworthy in every way.  Both genders are equally honest, fair, peaceful, hard-working, fun-loving, and so on.  With one key exception, both genders share the same trait preferences: The average man places as much weight... MORE

George Borjas' new Immigration Economics contains the first intellectually serious critique of the increasingly mainstream view that open borders is a big stack of "trillion dollar bills on the sidewalk."  Borjas begins by clearly explaining what's at stake.[W]hat types of... MORE

Your Big Doubts About the 10,000 Hour Rule Are Well-Founded

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Ericsson, Krampe, and Tesch-Romer's "The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance" (Psychological Review 1993) isn't just one of the most famous articles in the history of academic psychology.  Thanks to Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, the article's bullet... MORE

Voluntary-but Bossy-Socialism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Voluntary-and-laid-back socialism sounds good to most people; that's why Cohen's camping trip thought experiment works.  Involuntary socialism, in contrast, sounds terrible to almost everyone; that's why Cohen's thought experiment fails to advance what most avowed socialists have in mind.  The... MORE

What Is Tyler Smoking?

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
Am I the only person who's noticed that Tyler has gone straight from predicting that marijuana legalization would never happen to Straussian fretting about the large effect of legalization on use?  Tyler's original prediction was based on a strange voting... MORE

Ownership for Cartoonishly Nice People

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The noble and prolific Jason Brennan has just released Why Not Capitalism?, a short book replying to Gerald Cohen's Why Not Socialism?  Outstanding work, as usual.  For me, the highlight is Brennan's explanation for why even cartoonishly nice people would... MORE

Do Credential Scandals Support the Signaling Model?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Every now and then, the world suddenly learns that a perfectly competent worker faked his credentials.  Consider the case of MIT's former head of admissions:Marilee Jones, the dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology... admitted that she had... MORE

Free Intentions

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I quite enjoyed Alfred Mele's Free: Why Science Hasn't Disproven Free Will (available for pre-order now).  It's a great exercise in the debunking of debunking.  My favorite case: Many psychologists (and laymen) argue that consciousness is epiphenomenal.  In layman's terms,... MORE

The Weak-Willed Do-Gooder

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Imagine Smith sees a problem in the world.  He knows how to fix the problem.  He's got the resources to implement this remedy.  He sincerely wants to do good.  If he decides to fix the problem, is there any reason... MORE

Kant just went up a full notch in my eyes.  From The Critique of Pure Reason, via David Gordon, via Wlodek Rabinowicz.The usual touchstone, whether that which someone asserts is merely his persuasion -- or at least his subjective conviction,... MORE

How I Teach When I Really Want My Students to Learn

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
A month ago, my eleven-year-old sons still didn't know how to tie their shoes.  I volunteered to teach them.  As a professional educator, I was tempted to teach shoe-tying the same way I teach econ: With a scintillating lecture.  Since... MORE

21 Short Claims About Political Motivation

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday I wrote:If you want lots of X, but are too ignorant to evaluate X's indirect effects, you probably just really love X.  If you want lots of ice cream, but are too ignorant to evaluate ice cream's effect on... MORE

Liberal Authoritarianism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Critics often view liberals as deeply authoritarian.  Most liberals naturally object to this unflattering claim.  Critics notwithstanding, liberals don't relish using the power of government.  They don't have a raw preference for forcing everyone live their way.  Instead, liberals maintain,... MORE

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