The

The "Vanity of the Philosopher": From Equality to Hierarchy in Post-Classical Economics

by Sandra Peart, David M. Levy
     
 

ISBN-10: 0472114964

ISBN-13: 9780472114962

Pub. Date: 10/11/2005

Publisher: University of Michigan Press


The "Vanity of the Philosopher" continues the themes introduced in Levy's acclaimed book How the Dismal Science Got Its Name.

Here, Peart and Levy tackle the issues of racism, eugenics, hierarchy, and egalitarianism in classical economics and take a broad view of classical economics' doctrine of human equality. Responding to perennial accusations

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Overview


The "Vanity of the Philosopher" continues the themes introduced in Levy's acclaimed book How the Dismal Science Got Its Name.

Here, Peart and Levy tackle the issues of racism, eugenics, hierarchy, and egalitarianism in classical economics and take a broad view of classical economics' doctrine of human equality. Responding to perennial accusations from the left and the right that the market economy has created either inequality or too much equality, the authors trace the role of the eugenics movement in pulling economics away from the classical economist's respect for the individual toward a more racist view at the turn of the century.

The "Vanity of the Philosopher" reveals the consequences of hierarchy in social science. It shows how the "vanity of the philosopher" has led to recommendations that range from the more benign but still objectionable "looking after" paternalism, to overriding preferences, and, in the extreme, to eliminating purportedly bad preferences. The authors suggest that an approach that abstracts from difference and presumes equal competence is morally compelling.

"People in the know on intellectual history and economics await the next book from Peart and Levy with much the same enthusiasm that greets a new Harry Potter book in the wider world. This book delivers the anticipated delights big time!"
-William Easterly, Professor of Economics and Africana Studies, NYU, and non-resident Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development

"In their customary idiosyncratic manner, Sandra Peart and David Levy reexamine the way in which the views of classical economists on equality and hierarchy were shifted by contact with scholars in other disciplines, and the impact this had on attitudes towards race, immigration, and eugenics. This is an imaginative and solid work of scholarship, with an important historical message and useful lessons for scholars today."
-Stanley Engerman, John Munro Professor of Economics and Professor of History, University of Rochester

Sandra J. Peart, Professor of Economics at Baldwin-Wallace College, has published articles on utilitarianism, the methodology of J. S. Mill, and the transition to neoclassicism. This is her fourth book. David M. Levy is Professor of Economics at George Mason University and Director of the Center for Study of Public Choice. This is his third book.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780472114962
Publisher:
University of Michigan Press
Publication date:
10/11/2005
Pages:
344
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Pt. IEquality versus hierarchy
1Analytical egalitarianism and its opposition3
2Perceiving race and hierarchy15
Pt. IIClassical economics and the cattle herders
3Hierarchy and transformation : "chemical political economy"31
4Denying human homogeneity : eugenics and the making of postclassical economics58
5Statistical prejudice : from eugenics to immigration87
6Picking losers for sterilization : eugenics as demographic central planning104
Pt. IIIDebating sympathy
7Sympathy and its discontents : "greatest happiness" versus the "general good"129
8"Who are the canters?" : the coalition of evangelical-economic egalitarians154
9A discipline without sympathy : the happiness of the majority and its demise180
10Darwin and the differential capacity for happiness : from cardinal to ordinal utility theory208
Pt. IVThe theorist in the model
11Analytical egalitarianism, anecdotal evidence, and information aggregation via proverbial wisdom237
Pt. VConclusion
12Sympathy and the past : our "stock in dead people" reconsidered265
Postscript : a letter from M. Ali Khan270
AppGalton's two papers on voting as robust estimation273

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