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June 24-July 8, 2018 | Yale University | Tikvah Institute for High School Students
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Economics and the Human Good

James Otteson | June 25 - 29

How can economics contribute to the prospects of creating a humane and just society? In this course, we will investigate political economy, or the discipline that attempts to join moral philosophy with economic reasoning, asking: What are the moral values that our society should champion, and how can we achieve them given the material, psychological, and other constraints we face?

We will read selections from a handful of the most important contributors to political-economic inquiry, including Bernard Mandeville, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Wilhelm Röpke, Friedrich Hayek, and Irving Kristol. Our goals will be not only to understand their contributions, but also to explore the benefits and liabilities—including the moral benefits and liabilities—of a market economy.

What exactly is a market economy and what are the main arguments in favor of it?
What conceptions of human nature and human virtue are assumed or encouraged in market economies?
Why are some places wealthier and more prosperous than others?
What are some of the main worries about or objections to market economies?
To what extent should we endorse or oppose a market economy?

Meet the Instructor

James Otteson

Wake Forest University

Dr. James Otteson joined Wake Forest in the Fall of 2013 as Executive Director of the BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism and Teaching Professor of Political Economy. Before coming to Wake Forest, Dr. Otteson was joint professor of philosophy and economics, and philosophy department chair, at Yeshiva University. He has taught previously at New York University, Georgetown University, and the University of Alabama. He also serves currently as a Research Professor in the Freedom Center and in the Philosophy Department at the University of Arizona, and he is a Senior Scholar at the Fund for American Studies in Washington, DC. Dr. Otteson’s scholarship focuses on political economy, political philosophy, history and philosophy of economics, and eighteenth-century moral and political thought. He is an expert on Adam Smith, on the moral foundations of capitalism, and on the comparative evaluation of competing systems of political economy.