Archive for the ‘History of Economics’ Category
Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013
I only met Ronald Coase once, and quite by accident. But it was one of those memories that sticks with you.
I was working in the reading room of the Special Collection Research Center at the University of Chicago’s Regenstein Library. It was probably the summer of 1996, and I was of course working on Frank Knight’s materials. Mid-afternoon, an elderly gentleman came in and sat down at the table next to mine. A number of people were working in the reading room, so I didn’t particularly take notice of this man. I only noticed, out of the corner of my eye, that he was reading a book, rather than looking at archived papers.
At some point I looked around me and realized that the man reading beside me was none other than Ronald Coase. Of course, I tried to see (without staring!) what he was reading, but the book was resting on the foam book supports the Research Center provides for those reading rare books to protect the bindings. I kept looking over from time to time to see if I could read the title, but never did.
I took a break around 3 pm, and went outside to enjoy the sunshine for a few moments. As I walked back in, Professor Coase was walking down the hallway leading out of the Research Center. I introduced myself, figuring that our mutual interest in Frank Knight would allow such an introduction, and asked him what he had been reading. In his soft unassuming voice, he said,
“I was just checking to make sure I had a quotation from the first edition of Pigou’s The Economics of Welfare correct.”
As he walked away, I couldn’t decide which surprised me more: that he didn’t own a first edition of Pigou’s famous book himself (I do!), or that he would even check to see if he had the quote right!
Sunday, November 13th, 2011
What is liberty? What does it mean to be free? How do we assure a free society?
On Wednesday, November 16th, I open a series of talks at James Madison College on Liberty. Here is the information. My talk will be on Liberty in Classical Liberalism.
The James Madison College Student Senate and MSU’s Young Americans for Liberty are pleased to invite you to a speaker series defending the importance of freedom, however it may be conceived. From communism to anarchy, be prepared for a lively discussion on the meaning of liberty.
Come hear Professor Ross Emmett open the series with a conversation on the meaning of classical liberalism in modern society.
6:30pm on Wednesday the 16th of November in room 331 Case Hall.
Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
Jeanne Hoffman interviews me about my book.
Thursday, August 18th, 2011
The following was posted on the SHOE email list earlier today.
Warren Samuels passed away yesterday at his home in Gainesville, Florida. Warren was an eminent historian of economic thought, whose work ranged across the field’s breadth. His first published works in the field were a pair of articles on the physiocratic system (published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics) that served to reshape thinking about the physiocratic view of the economic role of the state. On the other end of the time spectrum, he was a pioneer in doing and encouraging work on the history of post-war economics. This breadth of scholarship is exemplified nicely in the book that he completed not long before his death, Erasing the Invisible Hand: Essays on an Elusive and Misguided Concept in Economics, which was brought to completion with the assistance of Marianne Johnson and will be released by Cambridge University Press in September. We’ve suffered a great loss as an intellectual community in his passing.
Many of you knew Warren well, so there is no need to rehearse at length his publications or his forays into many other areas of economics. Warren was one of the first historians of economics to treat the history of economics as a branch of intellectual history. This was, for him, a part of the larger intellectual conversation about the role of governments and markets in modern society that was his lifelong pursuit. His well-known studies of policy in classical economics (The Classical Theory of Economic Policy) and in Pareto (Pareto on Policy) were major contributions to that discussion. His perspective had a significant effect on the students who studied with him over the years, and on those of us who were the recipients of his comments and advice at conferences and via correspondence.
From the outset of his career, Warren recognized the importance to the intellectual historian of correspondence, course notes, unpublished manuscripts, public lectures, etc. What we now collectively refer to as archival materials. Not only did he promote the use of these materials in historical research, but he also amassed an extensive personal collection of these materials, which he began to publish in 1989 in archival supplements to Research in the History of Economic Thought & Methodology. The very first supplement contained the notes he had obtained from economist Robert L. Hale and Sinologist Homer H. Dubs of John Dewey’s course on Moral and Political Philosophy at Columbia University. The second supplement contains the only authorized publication of Frank Knight’s infamous lecture on “The Case for Communism.” Warren and George Stigler went back and forth for some time regarding the publication of that piece! Dewey and Knight were, perhaps not surprisingly, two of Warren’s intellectual heroes. The materials he amassed will continue to be published in the research annual for many years to come. His collection of photographs of economists is already available online from the Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University.
Warren was also a tireless editor of volumes that touched upon almost any aspect of his wider interests. I have lined up on my bookshelf over 80 volumes that he edited on the history of economics, economic methodology, or recent economic thought. Mine is probably not a complete set! All of these were undertaken to encourage scholarship in areas that interested him (and, by extension, which he thought would interest others). Many of them are also the means by which he encouraged the work of young scholars.
Many of us experienced his generosity to students, young scholars and anyone else who wanted to join the great conversation. His goal and passion was to broaden and enrich that conversation, and he was as happy to engage in conversation with a young scholar as he was with a Nobel laureate. To that end, he and Sylvia made a substantial contribution to the History of Economics Society to endow its Young Scholars program.
Among the many professional societies to which he belonged, the History of Economics Society was always the one closest to Warren’s heart. He was a founding member of the Society, and served as its 8th President. The Society honored him in 1997 with its Distinguished Fellow award; two years earlier he was the recipient of the Association for Evolutionary Economics Veblen-Commons Award. He was the long-time editor of the Journal of Economic Issues and the founding editor of Research in the History of Economic Thought & Methodology.
I wish to acknowledge the helpful advice I received from Jeff Biddle, Marianne Johnson and Steve Medema.
Sunday, August 29th, 2010
I began this project almost 10 years ago, and am glad to see it completed!
Many know the Chicago School of Economics and its association with Milton Friedman, George Stigler, Ronald Coase and Gary Becker. But few know the School’s history and the full scope of its scholarship. In this Companion, leading scholars examine its history and key figures, and provide surveys of the School’s contributions to central aspects of economics, including: price theory, monetary theory, labor and economic history. The volume examines the School’s traditions of applied welfare theory and law and economics while providing a glimpse into emerging research on Chicago’s role in the development of neoliberalism.
Tags: Chicago economics, Chicago School, Chicago School of Economics, Gary Becker, George Stigler, Milton Friedman, price theory, Ronald Coase, University of Chicago economics
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