Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

moral reasoning

A Category Archive (43 entries)
I've asked tough questions before. When Leon Panetta, my former Congressman, came to NPS as Secretary of Defense, I asked [here at the 43:40 point] whether, given his own previous statement that Al Qaeda was down to a handful of... MORE

My Apologies

moral reasoning
David Henderson
As someone who has made a lot of mistakes and who tries hard to admit them and apologize when I think apologies are in order, I have become somewhat of a student of the apology. I think it's important, if... MORE

Jonathan Gruber's Economics

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
"Why, Sir, if the fellow does not think as he speaks, he is lying; and I see not what honour he can propose to himself from having the character of a lyar. But if he does really think that there... MORE

Let me get my biases out of the way right up front: 1. I strongly disagree with Gruber's views on health economics, for reasons discussed by Bryan Caplan in a recent post. 2. I opposed Obamacare, albeit not quite as... MORE

The title is my pathetic attempt to imitate Miles Kimball and Noah Smith, who sometimes post on religion. This won't be about religion; it's about monetary policy. Oh wait . . . In the 1970s, US policymakers knew that inflation... MORE

Words and meaning (good theft and bad)

moral reasoning
Scott Sumner
Many people like to attack ideas by linking them up with words that have ambiguous meaning, but either very positive or very negative connotations. Then they use the word as a sort of crude cudgel, to bash their opponent. This... MORE

Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, better known as Instapundit, writes: The response to Foley's beheading should have been a MOAB dropped on an ISIS-held town. For those of you who don't know, a MOAB is... MORE

I generally agree with Bryan that pacifism and appeasement are greatly under-rated in everyday life and especially in international affairs. While I'm not sure machismo is the fundamental argument against pacifism and appeasement, I'm sure it plays a large role.... MORE

I feel pain therefore I am (a utilitarian)

moral reasoning
Scott Sumner
Bryan Caplan asks me for a defense of utilitarianism, and specifically a reason for rejecting other strongly held moral intuitions. Like many poorly educated people, I know little about philosophy other than that Descartes said "I think therefore I am."... MORE

Bad Faith and Court Decisions

Economic Methods
David Henderson
I wrote my earlier post this morning when I woke up in the middle of the night. I finally got back to sleep and woke up with another thought. Here would be a test of Scott Sumner's claim. You would... MORE

Does Predictability Imply Bad Faith?

Economic Methods
David Henderson
Co-blogger Scott Sumner, on his own blog, has written a stinging critique of intellectuals. You can read it for yourself, but here's the part I want to highlight and respond to: It's an embarrassment that the two sides of the... MORE

Keynesians often say that it's "obvious" that more government spending will boost GDP. I love this reply by Nick Rowe: The average reader of the New York Times probably thinks he knows about fiscal policy. "We know that Y=C+I+G+NX, so... MORE

A few notes on utilitarianism

Income Distribution
Scott Sumner
As I expected, my post on utilitarianism generated a bit of controversy. In the comment section, konshtok wondered: what am I missing? from a utilitarian pov killing one person and using the organs to save the lives of others... MORE

The wisdom of Cass Sunstein

moral reasoning
Scott Sumner
I've never found critiques of utilitarianism to be persuasive. Here are a few I've run across: 1. The critic describes a horrible scenario, and then asks the reader to assume that it results in greater total utility. The scenario might... MORE

Free Market Virtues

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
After finishing the game, the players had to fill in a form that asked their age and the part of Germany where they had lived in different decades. The authors found that, on average, those who had East German roots... MORE

Co-blogger Bryan Caplan opened the month with a post on "Liberal Authoritarianism." he left "the writing of the companion post on "Conservative Authoritarianism" as an exercise for the reader." I accepted his challenge, so here we go. In Bryan's way... MORE

Dick Wagner on Buchanan

Economic Education
David Henderson
Shortly before the mid-September start of the semester, all students had to meet with Leland Yeager, then Director of Graduate Studies, to get their programs of study approved for the coming year. First-year students who came directly from their bachelor's... MORE

Reverse Mortgages in Organs

Price Controls
Art Carden
Bryan's post below inspired me to think about an idea Mike Hammock and I first talked about while we were colleagues at Rhodes College that, I think, carries Zac Gochenaur's* argument a bit further: reverse mortgages in organs (here's an... MORE

The paradoxes of applying nationalism to immigration

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Scott Sumner
Consider two policy options: A. The US admits 1 million immigrants per year between now and 2050. B. The US admits 3 million immigrants per year between now and 2050. Suppose we only cared about the welfare of Americans. Would... MORE

Friday Night Video: Daniel Hannan on Socialism

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
I didn't have time to get permission to repost the Daniel Hannan video on Econlog, but you can go here to watch it. It's very good. It's about 13 minutes long. HT to Dan Klein.... MORE

Media Bias Yet Again

moral reasoning
David Henderson
Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds called attention to a case of media bias. One of his readers noted that Politico reporter Elizabeth Titus, in a piece on how there seem to be no scandals in Republican governor Scott Walker's background, identified... MORE

Open Letter to President Wildes re Professor Block

Economic Education
David Henderson
One of the ways I will occasionally depart from straight economics on this blog is to defend fellow academics from unfair attacks by bullies. When the president of your university attacks you unfairly and in public, he is being a... MORE

I'm sharing a room with Frank Stephenson of Berry College at the Southern Economic Association meeting in Tampa. Our room has a coffeemaker that makes one cup at a time. Yesterday morning, Frank made a cup of coffee, then I... MORE

Language and Social Justice

Economic Philosophy
Bart Wilson
Jason Brennan argues that language can be used as an example by which we can judge the moral consequences of a spontaneous order. His argument is to suppose that a language "through no fault of their own" results in some... MORE

Based upon last fall's Humanomics course, Gus Gradinger and I are submitting the following chapter proposal for a book on teaching with The Wire. If it doesn't fit with the editors' vision for the volume, we plan to work out... MORE

Of Mice and Men, Morals and Markets

moral reasoning
Bart Wilson
Good morals make for good markets is hardly a contentious claim. Reputations for honest dealing grease the wheels of commerce. But does it go the other way? Do markets foster good morals? The intuition of most people is that markets... MORE

One of the most compelling characters in Adam Smith's work is the person he refers to as "the man of system." Here's Smith's oft-quoted passage from The Theory of Moral Sentiments: The man of system, on the contrary, is apt... MORE

What's 'freedom' (regular human beings version)?

moral reasoning
Alberto Mingardi
The Online Library of Liberty is hosting a symposium on George H Smith's most interesting book, "The System of Liberty." Jason Brennan, David Gordon and Ralph Raico commented on Smith's lead essay--and the whole thing is well worth reading. Jason... MORE

Why are YOU A Libertarian?

moral reasoning
Art Carden
The Institute for Humane Studies' LearnLiberty.org project has created a Tumblr asking people why they are libertarians. This one caught my eye. Shayne, age 20, is a LIBERTARIAN because I cannot remember a time without WAR abroad and WAR at... MORE

Ken Minogue's last essay

moral reasoning
Alberto Mingardi
The New Criterion has just published a version of Ken Minogue's last essay, that he presented in a Mont Pelerin Society meeting in the Galapagos Islands, just a couple of days before he suddenly and sadly passed away. In the... MORE

I'm working on a book I'm co-authoring with Deirdre McCloskey on the economic history of the last few centuries. Here is a choice passage from page 44 of her 2006 book The Bourgeois Virtues: The tempting shortcut of taxing the... MORE

Ken Minogue, RIP

moral reasoning
Alberto Mingardi
Though he was used to dine with friends every Sunday, once Adam Smith "retired to bed before supper; and, as he went away, took leave of his friends by saying 'I believe we must adjourn this meeting to some other... MORE

Krugman: Beggar Thy (American) Neighbor

moral reasoning
David Henderson
Either that, or Paul Krugman believes in the Easter Bunny. In his June 6 New York Times column, "The Spite Club," Paul Krugman castigates some Republican governors for refusing to extend Medicaid to a larger population. He writes: No, the... MORE

Values Every Scholar Should Adopt

moral reasoning
Art Carden
Jacob Levy directs readers to the Mission Statement of the Freedom Center at the University of Arizona. I agree that these are values to be emulated. While I sometimes allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good, I... MORE

Dwight Lee on Ebenezer Scrooge's Morality

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
The first Scrooge [before the visit of the three ghosts] satisfied only the requirements of the first morality, which I call mundane morality, while the second Scrooge [after the ghosts' visits] enthusiastically embraced the second morality, which I call magnanimous... MORE

On Homeschoolery: A Bet, Revised

Economics of Education
Art Carden
Thanks, everyone, for suggestions on my proposal below, and I'm especially honored that seasoned bettor Bryan offered a few suggestions (I also got a nice email with suggestions from EconLog friend Fabio Rojas, who noted that the selection biases in... MORE

Free Speech for Me but Not for Thee: The Case of Erik Loomis

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
Second Update: Henry Farrell of Crooked Timber has commented below, ending with: "I would be grateful if you could change the original post to reflect these facts." I won't change it, but I will alert readers to his comment. I... MORE

If I Were a Global Utilitarian...

moral reasoning
Garett Jones
...I'd probably push for an incredibly stringent anti-hijacker policy.  After all, the last time a few individuals hijacked U.S. planes, it genuinely caused a war in Afghanistan and substantially raised the probability of a war in Iraq.  Massive loss of civilian... MORE

The pattern of individual, decentralized human evil I've discussed in recent posts is an underappreciated argument against the welfare state.  If a substantial fraction of the people around us are money-burners and perverse punishers, how much sympathy will voters have... MORE

The Political is Personal

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Dan Balz writes, a report issued Monday by the Pew Research Center paints a particularly stark portrait of a nation in which the most significant divisions are no longer based on race, class or sex but on political identity. Read... MORE

The Importance of Nirvana

moral reasoning
Arnold Kling
On Wikipedia, The nirvana fallacy is the logical error of comparing actual things with unrealistic, idealized alternatives. It can also refer to the tendency to assume that there is a perfect solution to a particular problem. I thought of this... MORE

A Question of Principle?

moral reasoning
David Henderson
I watched most of the movie Paradise Road yesterday. I recommend it, by the way. It's about a large group of women who were captured in Singapore during World War II and taken prisoner by the Japanese government to the... MORE

Neuroscience and Ethics

moral reasoning
Arnold Kling
Ron Bailey writes, In my view, human prehistory and history has been a more or less random search for social institutions that increasingly discover and conform to our evolved natures. My contention is that is manifestly the case that liberal... MORE

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