Monday, June 6, 2011

Things I have been thinking about lately

Richard Posner, John Maynard Keynes, pragmatism, G.E. Moore, Frank Knight, Dewey, popular presentations of Keynesianism, intellectual conversions, and the Chicago School.

Has anyone read The Failure of Capitalism? What did you think? What about The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy or How Judges Think?


  1. I've read "A Failure of Capitalism" and "The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy." I thought they were both quite good. In both books Posner makes his case as a convert to Keynesian economics - he has only a light discussion of the concept in the first book and a more in depth discussion in the second. (This ties in neatly with your thoughts on "popular presentations of Keynesianism.") The second reads almost like an expansion pack of the first, so to speak. He offers quite a lot of reference and analysis, but is seemingly filled with trepidation about making much in the way of specific policy recommendations. However, that's another theme of those books - he strongly cautions against applying major political fixes until we have a firmer understanding of the nature and causes of the crisis.

    Posner is not by nature a bombastic writer, and I found his prose to be appreciable when compared to the fist pounding tone of much of the other commentary available. I found plenty to disagree with in both books, and I'm sure you would as well, but they both deserve to be filed under the "worth reading" column.

  2. What about the Chicago School are you thinking about? I know someone who identifies as being part of that school.

  3. Thanks Kevin - that's very helpful.

    Octahedron -
    So I'm thinking about Posner's conversion to Keynesianism. Everyone was so surprised about it, largely because Posner was associated with the Chicago School. I think it's less surprising if we remember he is also closely associated with pragmatic philosophy. The elements that Posner emphasizes in Keynes (particularly decision making under uncertainty) are very similar to points made by pragmatists (I am not the first person to point tihs out).


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