Thursday, May 26, 2022

Economics vs Philosophy with Tyler Cowen

Hey everyone oh you you came to attention there very quickly hello hello philosophers and future philosophers I'm hagnes Callard I'm I teach in the philosophy department and I'm the director of undergraduate studies and before we get started actually just a few announcements so if you'd somehow didn't sign in at the very beginning .

Please do that like when you leave and you can leave at any time we're gonna go for three hours but you don't need to stay it's not a class you can stay as long as you like you can get up go get hot chocolate there's hot chocolate on the on my left and cookies on the right back there if you didn't get them and just a little preview of coming .

Attractions in the spring quarter we have two night Alice events coming one of them is on war and violence with Chris platinum and the other one is on the meaning of death so we're gonna watch the movie the Seventh Seal I ignore Bergman's movie Seventh Seal have dinner and talk about the meaning of death with Dan Morgan from cinema Media .

Studies so you can check out those on our website and see anything else um for this event some of you know there was a kind of study group so maybe like 20 students and I met in the evenings and read econ articles together it was really fun and we're gonna do one of those for the war on violence one if you're interested in .

Participating like on your way out they'll be a sign-up sheet okay and just a few things I want to thank the college and the Becker Friedman Institute for financial support for this event and my co-conspirators Rory Hanlon where's Rory Rory I don't see him and William Weaver William who's back there at the signing .

Table Thank You William okay so when somebody asks me like how soon I go somewhere to give a talk and they asked me how do I want to be introduced I always say use as few words as possible and say them as quickly as possible because it's actually really sucks being introduced um you're kind of sitting there and like a lot of people .

Are staring at you and you just have to absorb the stairs like if you're talking you can concentrate on what you're saying right so I found out like I don't know a month or so ago that Tyler feels the same way about being introduced so I was gonna give him this really short introduction but then I remembered two things so one .

Of them is that while I hate being introduced I actually love introducing people the other one is that neither Tyler nor I are strict contents so here is my long introduction so Tyler Cowen is an economics professor at George Mason University he's written a ton of articles and lots of books on a big variety of topics how .

Many books I think like more than 15 and fewer than 20 books about and if I had to summarize all of them in two sentences I haven't read all of them but I'm pretty confident in this extrapolation so here here's here's my two sentence summary of all of Tyler's books the world you're living in has a bunch of problems but they're not the .

Ones you think they are and most things are going to get better in most ways that's sort of his worldview as I see it okay so Tyler does a lot of other stuff besides write books he's been maintaining a blog for 15 years marginal revolution and if there's some topic or person you're interested in and you just put it in the search engine of his blog .

The chances that something will come up are really good it's kind of like an alternative Wikipedia and if you couldn't come up empty you can email him and like maybe he'll had an entry ha I would say that he knows something about most things except maybe geology so like all of human knowledge – geology but to be a .

Little more specific he he definitely has some areas of specialization economics but also music art literature maybe like most of all travel to give you a sense of it cuz I think maybe this is like the achievement he might be most proud of so if we took like two giant maps of the world right and we put them on that wall right there and all of us .

Together put everywhere we've been and then Tyler took the other math well there's a reason we're doing economic sources philosophy instead of that let's just say um so um even when he's Tyler's at home he sort of travels the world in a different way he's co-produced an online series of videos about economics sort of .

Basic principles in economics it's translated into a lot of languages so all people around the world can learn about economics for free he has a podcast conversations with Tyler where he interviews food writers athletes journalists philosophers scientists contrarians of every stripe you could sort of see it as an illustration of the .

Principle Tyler can talk to anyone about anything and you might think that's cuz he's well-rounded and he knows about a lot of different things but if that were true that would be less interesting for our purposes because we want to talk to an economist right and what's exciting about Tyler is that he it is a lot comics for him he sort of sees economics .

Everywhere so he can help us see it and then we can destroy it sorry ok back to the intro so most recently he started a kind of pop-up philanthropy project called emergent ventures where rich people give him money and then he gives it away to people like you if you have big ideas about what you might want to do with it so we'll look it up and apply .

On top of that he has like a hundred and twenty thousand Twitter followers and not only that he even kind of induces people to join Twitter like me I joined Twitter I was kind of inspired by Tyler so he's kind of like a I don't know there's a term for it like a Twitter vampire okay so I think it should be pretty .

Clear what all of this adds up to right every time and place and culture is gonna have its idiosyncratic form of Crusader Tyler is one for the online era he's a global internet superhero weird election as you hear and this concludes the part of the evening in which I'm nice okay so here's how this is gonna work I'm gonna ask Tyler a bunch of .

Questions he might ask me questions I don't know for awhile and then I'll open it up to you my first question so this morning the New York Times front page headline was that like eight people died in the Midwest from the cold and I thought oh that's sad this terrible polar vortex has what a bad thing it caused these eight people to die but .

Then I thought well wait a minute that's how I usually think about it let me try to think about it like an economist I thought well what about all the people who didn't die because of the car trips they didn't take because they stayed in their houses but then I thought well but what about all the businesses that were closed and all the .

Money that was lost from sales that didn't happen but then I thought yeah but what if this kind of brief shock to the economic system actually overall somehow improves improves our economic situation if it's at that point that I feel like my mind is getting a bit lost and I just want to go back to my first thought and be like it said that those .

Eight people died and so what I want to know is is there a resting place for that kind of economic thought and if not does it have detaching us from our humanity let me first say I'm very proud that today we have with us Agnes Kelly now a professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago .

And was recently profiled with her work in New Yorker magazine quite prominently by Joshua Rothman Agnes also has studied ancient history as Berkeley Berkeley her best-known book is aspiration published by Oxford University Press she is also known as having been a guest on the podcast series conversations with Pilar and .

There is much more I could say about her but tonight I feel ever so slightly content so I'll address the question I would start off by thinking about the incentives of media so media live from clicks now more than ever before and what encourages people to click through is negative news so there's a general negative bias and median so people who .

Consume a lot of media they think that crime rates are very high even when they're lower falling they may not be lower falling in every part of Chicago but in most of the United States they are quite low and has been falling for decades so if the article says eight have died because of the cold first realized probably there's a negative .

News bias in that headline but also asked the economic question well eight relative to what margin how many people would have died anyway which is what Agnes is getting at offhand as a matter of theory we don't know but of course the net number of deaths is unlikely to be 8 what 8 means is that there are 8 deaths which can be .

Attributed to called under the condition that if a fact-checker were to call up and they do let me tell you they do not that someone would say oh this person died because of the cold so the next thing we might do as an economist is try to figure out the net impact on human lives of the level of temperature cow and second law says .

There's a literature on everything and there are in fact papers do more people die when it is thought or when it is cold it depends of course on the margin if it were 140 degrees fahrenheit I think more people probably would die from the heat but as I understand these pieces it seems to be the case that more people die when it's called out that a .

Lot of circulatory problems like people have heart attacks shoveling the snow basically and it's better for human life in the short run when it's somewhat warmer so some number of people probably did die in the causal sense and then I look at the philosopher what's causality oh my goodness we can come back to that very tricky question but some people .

Probably did die because of the cold that's what I would say as an economist but don't believe everything you read either so my question was about how my initial reaction to this story was one of kind of empathy and sadness and maybe that's a big part of why there's a negative bias because when bad things happen we feel like we actually ought to .

React to them with a negative emotion where there maybe is it it is maybe it isn't so necessary to react to good things that happen but we might we might think we have like a kind of moral or human obligation and my worry is that the whole line of thinking that you just produced alienates me from my inclination to have that human reaction .

You should think more about people dying in other countries so when people die due to net weather effects or air pollution effects in the United States on average those tend to be people who are older if you go to a country such as Eritrea and you look at life expectancy figures per capita income figures child mortality deaths from .

Malaria I think on that we are too sensitized to matters which are geographically or demographically or intellectually close to us and we are too desensitized to that which is far from us this is a long-standing theme as you know David Hume Adam Smith my goodness all those people could perish in a flood in China was noted in the .

18th century and you care more about having a little scratch on your finger so I think the bias that we have is how we allocate our empathy and we're allocating it for largely selfish reasons economics can help explain some of that so the question is not being alienated or not but we only have a limited capacity for some emotions and .

It seems to me we have a classic externalities problem where people have selfish reasons for caring about what's close to them and the net effect is we neglect that which is far including far in time so we'll end up saying undervaluing climate change for the same reason that's a risk what is economics economics is a bit of an art it's a bit .

Of a science it is better understood sociologically and anthropology rather than in terms of its essence economics is in short what economists do how if we try to think about the thermos if we think about right let's so let's think about what you do the object now how important is human freedom to the subject matter that .

You study people have very different notions of human freedom so there's a long-standing distinction between negative freedom and positive freedom but I would say in its core or pure form economics is at least trying to be value free and some of it is a series of comparative static propositions well if the price of tomatoes goes up I will buy .

Fewer tomatoes at least under some conditions if my income goes up I will eat out more often at restaurants and then you try to make the propositions successively more interesting but as they become non-trivial you're not so sure if they are true and then you go out and look at data and find out to what extent are these propositions true .

By no means is that all of what economics is but that's a part of the court that we might try to teach and say econ 101 or intermediate so we don't for the most part talk about human freedom in basic core economics there is a branch of economics which overlaps with philosophy which talks a great deal about human freedom .

Say we're trying to understand like a particular interaction right so you're talking about buying Tomatoes right so how can we tell whether you're buying Tomatoes or whether you just hand it over some money and somebody else gave you some Tomatoes I think there are some cases where we genuinely cannot tell so economics does best in predicting .

When the notion of price is fairly unambiguous and if you walk into Whole Foods and you buy some Tomatoes and hand over your money and they hand over the tomatoes there is a series of laws and customs and there's even surveillance by closed-circuit TV to make sure that more or less that's exactly what happens but I like to tell the story when my .

Daughter was younger still living at home I paid her to do the dishes and I thought I was paying her but she didn't do the dishes anymore I'd say Jana if you do the dishes I'll pay you some money she was like I realized she had a deeper model in her mind where I had a threshold amount of money I was going to give her in any case whether or not she .

Did the dishes and I wasn't actually paying her to do the dishes I was reading my payment in a way that would make her worse off and I helped me better off and she saw through to that economic game more quickly than I did so I think when price is poorly defined predictions of economics do much worse but in that case um it's that she could .

See that whether you gave her the money didn't depend on what she did in the short run maybe but in the longer run yes so if we're planning her college fund we think well so much money has to be in there right so parents often support their children in threshold fashions and they don't ram down to each dollar to each cent so their attempts to .

Incentivize their children in the mean time with small rewards tend not to work there made me better not commodifying the activity not saying this is about money saying it's about a particular nature of a relationship obedience to your parents just general willingness to cooperate maybe you're better off trading favors with your children than .

Trading with them for all of those reasons so a deeper economic model again it's going to get quite muddy and ambiguous but you can start seeing like what might be the cross-sectional variation here if it's not your kid if it's someone washing dishes in a restaurant how do you get them to do it you pay them right then it .

Really works pretty well you don't pay them they're not going to show up when don't incentives matter incentives matter less when demand and supply curves are what we call inelastic so if you take someone for instance who is a diabetic I actually haven't read this literature but I would presume the demand curve for insulin might be .

Somewhat more inelastic than other demand curves and if the price of insulin goes up maybe they will do more or less the same thing just pay more money elasticity depends on numerous factors the most obvious of which is short term versus long term elasticity's tend to be greater in the long term incentives matter more in the long term .

There are a whole bunch of short term problems where price changes don't seem to matter much people are kind of locked in I have it or planning horizons but in the medium to long term again you see the action starting to show itself so you a minute ago you talked about the sort of the deeper market like that you that your daughter saw through sure yeah .

Much more quickly than I do yeah so are there ever just situations that shouldn't be modeled using the idea of a market like one thing you might think is sometimes I have to give something up and then I'm gonna get something else but I shouldn't understand that as a trade or an exchange I might even have sort of a moral obligation not to .

Understand it as a trader exchange maybe maybe the clearest cut case which wouldn't be a strong world vacation might be gifts right so like you know if I give you a gift for your birthday you give me a gift for my birthday like it may be that like this actus of gift-giving that we have it wouldn't continue if we didn't both give .

Each other gifts but there's just an important sense in which my gift to you I'm not like not like selling you that for the gift you give me right I just view it as like I give you something done finish you give me something thank you I I sacrifice Accra Feist a willing sacrifice with respect to the gift I give you and then the gift you give me I .

Feel gratitude right and those aren't feeling is that I could feel if I understood this I think is any kind of market transaction does that seem wrong here we have a philosopher asking the economists of that sugar sugar this is quite remarkable I don't know if I can address the sugar shouldn't question but I wouldn't know while I agree with much .

Of what you said there's a deeper level at which economic incentives still operate so there's a famous paper called the strategic bequest motive by Andre Schleifer and two or three co-authors Rob Disney at University of Chicago and it turns out that there's evidence that when parents decide bequests to their children to bequest is larger if the .

Children visit them more and write them more letters they actually found a dataset on this remarkable right again we're back to how in second law a literature and everything a gifts are supposed to be unconditional but I predict as an economist there are relatively few relationships or a birthday gift is given only one way for .

10 or 15 years running that there are bands of exchange and if there's no reciprocity so maybe I would proceed by asking the question when there's a reciprocity when might it make sense within a logic of exchange that what is demanded is quite precise so when I go to Whole Foods the price of the tomatoes it's exactly this if I hand over more .

They give it back if I hand over less I'm not allowed to leave the store unless it's maybe a penny and then there are other kinds of exchanges where you deliberately widen the band so if it's gift-giving it's like well I'll give you a gift every year if you give me a gift every other year send me a Christmas card holiday .

Card every other year well that's okay but at some point the reciprocity breaks down and then try to think through what kind of model might give us cross-sectional predictions as to when those bounds should be very tight and as to when they should be broader and then test that model now that literature I haven't read so I don't know what .

Economics tells us there but that's how I would think about it as an economist without being able to really solve the sugar shouldn't I be well I was asking about the depth issue that is you were saying there's like you know a deeper level on which you had your your daughter could see this market and I was looking is there some deeper level on .

Which there is in fact a market between us with birthday gifts right and it seems to me that the mere fact of reciprocity doesn't suggest that that is the right way for us to think about what's or let's say we won't be very good friends if we think about it that way and being friends is part of what it is to give gifts right so it like it's .

Not fitting to the kind of thing that we're doing to think about it that way I mean does that I guess it's the question of alienation again right so like does thinking about our gift-giving practices if I think about that from an economic point of view does that alienate me from our friendship there are papers on the economics of self-deception .

If you're trading with people you may do better if they think you are not calculating very exactly and maybe the way for them to get this impression is if in actual fact you are not calculating very exactly so people who have the reputation as being pure maximizers and indeed to our pure maximizers it's probably harder for them .

To a friendships healthy relationships marriages whatever you know run businesses so partly as a biological matter I suspect but also as a kind of subconscious strategy we evolved not to be transparent to ourselves to make reciprocal decisions across very gross margins to have results which in some ways actually look like calculation .

Without us knowing it is calculation keep in mind I interviewed you at my University here you are interviewing me at your University I'm not suggesting idea but flaw I didn't think well if I interview Agnes she'll have me into the University of Chicago and you didn't think well by having Tyler here it's like wow .

Returning the favor for him interviewing me it is but nonetheless it's remarkable how reciprocity operates with this power and you can understand that better with economic models let me read you I'm gonna read you a quote hold on let me find it so this is from Thorstein Veblen this is the guy who came up with that phrase .

Conspicuous consumption he writes businessmen habitually aspire to accumulate wealth in excess of the limits of practicable consumption and the wealth so accumulated is not intended to be converted by a final transaction of purchase into consumable goods or sensations of consumption um I was discussing this with this passage .

With my students and one of the students told me that one of her economics professors has a Hermes bag so I don't know if you've heard of this kind of it's like extremely extremely expensive like tens of thousands of dollars bag that he brings to class it's actually a woman's bag but and-and-and-and comes to class with like you know extremely fancy .

Very expensive clothes and it's kind of projecting I guess like wealth and success by doing this why do people do that why do people project wealth and success and also why do they accumulate wealth in that is not intended to be converted into consumable goods or sensations of consumption I've seen estimates that the net wealth of Jeff .

Bezos is over 130 billion dollars soon to be divided by two by the way I suspect he has no plans to spend that much but rather what he enjoys most of all is building one of the world's greatest companies this to me is quite a rational desire it doesn't exactly unto what I want to do with my life but I find it quite explicable and .

Something that might be quite thrilling for someone to do and if I look at the number of books I buy from Amazon or the cheese's I buy from Whole Foods it's remarkable how much of my money Jeff Bezos gets and the notion that you might value that way of almost communicating with someone and that the money you earn is a kind of signal and reflection of .

That and you value the money without necessarily having extreme consumption habits where you you know spend down the sixty five billion or whatever it will end up being me that makes much more sense than Veblen gives it credit for now why do people have these bags and the like it's maybe to signal to their friends that they're doing well and to .

Try to attract more powerful social allies and be in more popular social circles I'm not suggesting this is necessarily a conscious calculating move you may be worse at it if you are self-conscious about it but nonetheless many people act in this manner and an underlying terms as my colleague Robin Hanson has argued at length it's .

Probably about signaling so if the money like wealth is a kind of sign of success right that among other things could it be that that one of the reasons why people want to accumulate wealth it's a little bit like why people want to get high SAT scores like the SAT is supposed to be it's supposed to be a measure like of how smart you are how well-prepared .

You are right but then as soon as you get some measure like that people then that measure becomes a target right and then people and so could it be that like some of what goes on with the desirability of wealth is that that measure has become a target for people I find it remarkable how many people work so hard for some social goods which are .

Partly illusory and they're working on my behalf to rack up points so we've gamified a lot of social activities including running businesses and maybe there are actually cheaper ways to hand out those points but society is structured that you have to work pretty hard at being successful to get the points that's great for all of .

Us that would be a very simple economics invisible hand model sometimes say anything at the points is cheaper than paying people right is it good for them it depends who they are so if they have studied philosophy and they're properly self reflective they can ask themselves questions like is my business actually doing the world good am i maintaining .

Healthy relationships while I'm running the business and then it can be very good for them I know many wealthy people who are quite happy and fulfilled and have rich lives I know some wealthy people who are not so simply winning the game I don't think is good for you but it's quite possible to win the game and have a total outcome that's very .

Fulfilling and good for broader society I want to ask you about the difference between prices and sanctions so if say we have some well sometimes you have to pay in order to get to do something so that has a price and sometimes people make you pay for what you did that's like a sanction you're punished right and one way to think one way that I've .

Read that economists think about this difference is that we can we tend to price some activity when we have pretty good information about what the costs of that activity are and we tend to impose a sanction when we're not sure what the costs are exactly but we're sure that it's bad that is it socially we have it's like undesirable .

So like murder or something we don't know exactly what the cost is but we know it's wrong so take that way of distinguishing between a price and a sanction right where a sanction is kind of a legal idea right you did something wrong you're being punished so you have to pay money as a punishment why assuming and maybe you disagree assuming .

That that way of thinking about the information of prices the information relativity of whether we impose a price or sanction is correct why in the case of sanctions do we care about the person's intent well let's take the case of murder which you brought up as you know in most legal systems the penalties for deliberate .

Premeditated planned murders are higher than say the penalties for manslaughter so if you think of this in terms of a liability framework as has been developed here at University of Chicago in the law school indeed by Richard Epstein and by Ronald Coase there are good reasons why if something happens as an accident you might want to penalize .

It less than if it is planned deliberately in terms of how the incentives will lead to less of that behavior in the future but I think it runs deeper than that so if you imagine an imaginary setting where instead of being sent to jail for murder that's the kind of penalty or sanction you would just have to pay a price like you shop .

At Whole Foods some cheese's cost a very high amount well murder that's really expensive but economics has told us a human life is worth four million dollars so if you're willing to pay six you're right first of all that would mean some billionaires but in essence murder for free since they wouldn't feel the loss of the money but it's also .

Sending out a symbol about how your society values human life and it would be telling people there's an essence a non a gala terrian Treatment of Rights and who is protected by the rule of law and who is not and I think the medium and long term consequences of saying human life is just about money very wealthy people should be able to murder .

Without really feeling any loss of consumption or any loss of life standing that would be corrosive to broader political institutions in such a way where we prefer the sanction something like jail time rather than oh just do it for seven million dollars should we put a price on human life it's always context dependent so let's say you're .

Called into the Pentagon and the Pentagon wants advice the pentagon says well we could spend another ten million dollars it would make our aircraft carrier safer should we do it you're gonna either say yes or no or leave the room screaming or laughing or something but they're gonna call someone else in so some answer will be given you might .

Start by asking them well how many lives do you expect this will say and if they tell you well we think it'll save the life of one sailor every hundred years almost certainly the correct answer is no do not spend the ten billion because I could tell you other ways of spending the ten billion dollars smoke detectors being quite cheap and pretty effective .

That would save many more lives than one on the other hand if they tell you that saving 10 billion – spending 10 billion dollars will save a million lives it's almost certainly a good idea so we do value human lives every time we make a decision but that said there's something to be said for those decisions while not being secret not always framed .

Explicitly as here's how we all trade-off lives against dollars because then people in some ways start thinking social institutions or not people in the navier– like what my life is only worth fill-in-the-blank and I worked so hard and my fought to defend my nation and I spent all that time in a nuclear sub under the water and it .

Almost drove me crazy and they're only willing to spend four million dollars to save me surely I'm worth four point three it's not the conversation you want to have so there's an almost Strauss II and level of split meaning where there's some consideration of life valuations at the technocratic level yes it seeps into public discourse but you need plenty of .

Institutions stacked on top of that which go out of their way not to treat human lives only as something mattering in terms of money so both with this answer and in the earlier answer that you gave me about not like not being transparent to yourself in for not performing certain kinds of calculations about you know trade-offs and .

Reciprocation it it sounds to me like thinking like an economist means not not being totally straight with yourself all the time like well look there's we should we should in some contexts say that a human life is worth four million dollars but we shouldn't say that too loud or too you know in too many contacts because people will get upset .

About it or we you know we do have this kind of exchange between us where you're noticing maybe the value of the gift that I gave you and I'm noticing the value of the gift you give me but we kind of don't think too hard about or don't focus on it or we're better off if we don't perform the calculations ourselves like does it is it that .

Economics sees human beings as sort of fundamentally self deceived or opaque to themselves I would stress that all societies in human history have failed to satisfy what Rawls called the publicity condition don't blame this on we economists just as an anthropological observation if you're asking like what's a group of .

People most willing to be square with you I felt like the terms of a friendship are reciprocity I think like by far and away it's economists so we're not perfect but as a set of humans maybe we even err on the side of not being opaque enough if you just want to do it beer it's on economists themselves but I agree this is a moral issue I just don't .

Think it's in any way unique to the science of economics well I guess in philosophy I never find so I never find myself talking the way you were talking like I just think well look either it is or isn't okay to think that human life has a certain kind of to put a price on human life and you know maybe human lives are have a kind of value that can .

Be should be understood as having a dignity rather than a price and and now you might come back at me okay yourself so you might say that I'm self-deceived but I as a philosopher you at least you get to you get to at least feel straight with yourself let's say and maybe um maybe maybe economists I don't know what could could the fact that they speak at .

These two levels that they're adept at speaking at these two levels maybe that partly explains why they're good at being straight with people like they're familiar they're sort of intimately familiar with their own self-deceptions I think economists and philosophers have a great deal in common on this point I would just note you could have bought .

Like a bigger and safer car for your whole family and at some point we all don't spend more money on the safety of our family and we stop at different points so we're making these judgments we can tell ourselves I don't put a dollar value on human life but we all are making the decisions that the people in the .

Pentagon are making all right so let's try to understand it better rather than just saying it's not there here's what I would say economists said philosophers have in common I made up a list you tell me what you think of my list okay it doesn't mean we don't have big differences but let's start with what's in common first point is kind of rude .

But I think it's true economist sent philosophers even within academia really have above average IQs by quite a bit and this binds us together I'm serious and whose data on scores scores are not an exact measure of IQ but I feel there's good evidence for this point both intellectually and as personality types we both tend to be highly .

Analytical relative to many other parts of academic life for many other jobs economics is quite unified there's something called the logic of choice logic of microeconomics preferences constraints incentives philosophy I think is probably less unified but you've mostly all read a common set of books and there's a particular way of .

Conducting discourse that is common to most maybe not all philosophers that gives you a unity that maybe sociologists wouldn't have as much we're also two fields where you can say something counterintuitive without being screened out of the room there's also a fair amount of latitude to be politically incorrect and if you have an .

Analytical argument to back it up you might get away with it or even persuade people that's my like cheat sheet and what we have in common now what do you think um so I think that Economist's have more power than philosophers well that's getting what we don't have in common well the economists often take .

Themselves to be in a position to give advice at a pretty high level right as to like how how the country should be run or how like large decisions in fact a large number people should be made and and philosophers don't tend to see themselves as being in that position and what's weird about that is that you actually you you you alluded to this I .

Was gonna say admitted but alluded to is the more a nicer way to put it earlier that you know it can't economics tend to be value neutral philosophy tends to not be value neutral like you know I almost wrote my dissertation on why plagiarism isn't morally wrong counterintuitive use you can try to defend in philosophy not morally neutral like so um isn't that .

Like there's an odd almost like pair I don't know not parallelism but it's like the philosophers have or at least claim to have you know some kind of grounding in morals or ethics like they they here's a quote from James Buchanan by general agreement the economist has little or no business teaching morals or ethics and no justification for building .

His theory oh I'm gonna skip that part that doesn't matter okay just no teaching morals or ethics okay so we are the ones who know about morality at least we think we do a little bit and and you guys don't and so why are you the ones with all the power let me move on to what is wrong with economics and it's funny that you .

Mentioned insight James Buchanan miss Buchanan was my colleague for about 20 years until he died he was a Nobel laureate so he was a major figure in my department and Jim Buchanan was about the most moralizing human being I have ever met no one I used shows my words very carefully I said the core of economics attempts to be value free .

Economists themselves are awful they moralize all the time they don't understand ethics they don't understand the normative they don't understand even at a naive level meta ethics they've hardly read any ethics they will moralize on twitter they will moralize when they speak to governments they think the economic model has some .

Moral significance which in my view it actually doesn't or like it might if you argued for it with a lot of work in some cases but it doesn't per se have any automaticity to it in the moral sense so people who as a set of people who understand their own moral biases economists are among the very worst groups in the world and this is just a .

Terrible fact about us and it's true for more than 90% of economists it's probably more true for more powerful economists the other thing I would say about us is whenever we talk about philosophy of science you should automatically dismiss us we don't know what we're talking about we tend to be naive falsification is or at least say .

We are economics isn't actually done that way maybe like if you have read popper but we know almost nothing about philosophy of science we talk as if we're qualified to say things about philosophy of science because we practice economics that does give us some kind of knowledge actually but it doesn't mean what we say about .

Philosophy of science makes sense but almost always doesn't so in two major areas of philosophy people who are economists are a mix of like nonsensical terrible not making since and harmful um do you agree well I have to refute everything you said I tell them so that was really clever um I guess I want to know why .

Let me put forward a hypothesis why of what Oh why they're terrible forget the philosophy supposing this is terrible moralizing right so suppose suppose as an economist you didn't do any of that moralizing but you did still put yourself at the you know you offered up your services to say the government like we're you know just tell me what .

You want maximized and I'll show you how to do it right I'm not gonna tell you what's good or bad I'm just gonna you tell me what what result you want to achieve and I'll tell you what you have to do in order to achieve it right um and I'm I'm not gonna assess the ends at all right I'm gonna stick within my purview um there's something they'll be .

Some kind of humiliating about that like you're sort of your mind would become a tool for the use of others right and for good or evil you don't know which we're worse than that but continue well and so in in place of that what you might get is a very here's here's something that I feel like maybe that sense among economists it's like a lot of like .

Conventionalism so like conventional morality I guess I would say because you need some kind of you need some kind of moral or ethical view right to to be promoting to be if you're gonna be advising and saying here's what we ought to do using words like aunt and show it like how I use them and but if you haven't actually reflected on the .

Ethical system you're just gonna absorb whatever is around you you're gonna kind of fill in that void right whitworth convention so but it's self-serving convention so it's worse than what you're saying why is it self-serving well economist are somewhat factional or partisan at least often powerful colonists are and they will tend to .

Inject some moral values into the discussion there are a mix of conventional but they're conventional to a tribe so it's both partisan and conventional at the same time so I think you're over rating us if I may invoke that suppose that people didn't die so we're all gonna live forever okay I'm there we .

Gonna be no more people these are just you know the people that are alive now are the people that will always live how would that affect so you're a big fan of economic growth which be properly understood sustainable economic growth within the constraints of human rights um suppose that so would you be just as .

Much of a fan of economic growth more of a fan of it in that in that world in the world in which none of us ever die can we get to what's wrong with philosophers now no to answer your question I would be less of a fan of economic growth because I think human civilization has at least some chance of supporting a much much larger number of .

People and being fundamentally transformed into something far more wondrous than it is and if it's just the same set of us sad sacks ER in the room living forever I doubt if that will ever happen I still think a wealthier society on average would be better but I would be really much less enthusiastic about growth I see so part of your interesting .

Growth is this idea that there could be this really radically new kind of civilization all right or is it just the more people both more people and higher quality of lives and more creativity more diversity more fulfillment why couldn't we have that I mean except for the more people part the more creativity more fulfillment like why can't we .

Achieve that well maybe there's a chance of pharmaceuticals or genetically engineering doing that but human lives have a particular kind of structure and sending on what you do but creativity peeks at some age then openness declines and we get stuck so in mathematics maybe that happens relatively early or in chess in philosophy it actually happens .

Later in life but it happens to everyone and if we're all just growing older I worry about a very stultified society where not much changes hmm let me read you a quote this is by you actually and pointed my directed my attention to this quote from Bruno Latour this gets us back to the topic of what is wrong with philosophers since you wanted to you can .

Agree to disagree and then you can give me the lit your list I've always found that philosophy no Latour ah this is someone posted this on Twitter but I have always found that philosophy in America has become something like golf a highly skilled highly competitive outdoor activity but somewhat boring for the public to watch and of no relevance .

Whatsoever it's related to my lips okay go ahead so let me hear the list there's three points but rather than me running through all three let's take them one by one the first is I don't think philosophers have succeeded very well in integrating themselves into real world processes where they get useful feedback .

To be on learning loops so if I think of economists and again I recognize not always for the better if they work for governments they work for the Fed they work on Wall Street more and more work for tech companies there in academia they work on aid projects they work for multilaterals and there's a feedback in learning loops which are very very .

Powerful when I think like where do philosophers interact with the so-called real world I see a lot of that and biomedical ethics I see much much less of it in other areas I do see a good and useful trend in philosophy to have areas like safe philosophy of physics for the person doing it actually knows a lot about .

Physics that's great but just from my distant vantage point I don't actually see people doing physics coming to the Philosopher's asking them for help and that to me says something so to many of you are outside of learning loops where data and feedback are making it better and better at a pretty rapid rate that's my first criticism the philosophers .

Would you respond I guess all the philosophers I know are pretty much constantly talking to other people often to their students but also to their friends and and so but maybe what you mean is philosophers don't talk enough to non philosophers that's what you mean by the real world the non philosophers David an actual feedback it .

Could come from philosophers or non philosophy well that is feedback conversations are feedback I think philosophers get tons and tons of feedback the conversations haven't gotten that much better over time so there's something about say engineering that has progressed quite rapidly and some other areas of life .

Like teaching arithmetic to seven-year-olds until the internet didn't progress much for a long period of time and economics has on its side a bunch of processes which have progressed pretty rapidly like measurement and numbers and math and stats and what philosophy has you can still read Plato and learn things right and that's .

Amazing but it's part of my word so you want philosophy you want us to be doing philosophy faster I don't know if there's a way to get there it may just be you're stuck but it's my worry so do you also feel that way about like say looking at paintings or something like that people should learn to do it faster quite possibly yes .

Like is it is it true of everything that it's better if you do it faster oh no not everything but I think we should recognize there are some areas subject to what economists call the cost disease and it's hard to do them much better very quickly teaching would be an example again the Internet probably is changing that but up until the internet .

Teaching with technology and then there are other things we do like say building bridges and cars that progress very rapidly for long periods of time and to realize you know each has its limitations so I'm very willing to admit that feedback from data limits economists in some ways but I also think the absence of a lot of feedback from .

Data and solving real world problems or failing to solve them if it's philosophers in a number of ways so all idea the criticism can be symmetric but we're only doing them one at a time and that's my first criticism ok let me do the second one ok second one this somebody even sure it's a criticism it's an observation I'm .

On both sides of this one philosophers tend to specialize in long chains of argumentation with plenty of back and forth parts of arguments side arguments it's very striking to me a lot of philosophy journals you look at the articles they don't have abstracts I'm not saying they should but they often don't economics never the case there's a .

Long argument and then you get long for teks back and my goodness like you submit articles to philosophy journals some of your referee reports I've gotten some of these they're astounded or like Derek Parfit he would give people comments on a manuscript it could be longer than the manuscript itself back I've split Mario fees here but a lot of .

Economists when they see long chains of argumentation they suspect you're on the wrong track that you should be able to figure out more quickly on what empirical variables does this question depend upon and the conversation should collapse more quickly into a conversation about some empirical literature relative to what you see in .

Philosophy that is a difference I'm not at all saying economists get it just right but often sometimes occasionally rarely I'm a little bit frustrated with philosophy for this reason so let me begin by making a distinction so um so you make two points about philosophy one of them is that we use long chains of argumentation and the other is that we .

Don't try to quickly get down to the empirical um the second one I think it's it's true and I think it's often not a problem but sometimes a problem my own view about when like philosophers reason often from their intuitions they say well look here's how things seem to me right that's a starting point and that can be quite dangerous because your .

Intuitions can be shaped in ways that are invisible to you by idiosyncrasies of yourself I've had this happen to me many times and if you um sort of looking at like data about how other people think about it or even sometimes just reading novels or something like that can sort of jolt you out of that so that's a place where I think contact .

With the empirical can be really useful to philosophers a contempor hour and kind of shape the intuitions that we reason with and to the extent that we don't do that enough and we relied too quickly on those intuitions I think that is a problem so sorry I started by saying that I think that's but it is sometimes a problem and that's .

How it's a problem so I just sort of great the first thing about the long chains of argument that's I think it's completely right that that's indicating something wrong it's that all all arguments should be short Aristotle said they should have two premises every argument has to have just two premises because an argument is a putting .

Together of two thoughts into one to create a new thing that's Aristotle's definition of a syllogism right and he came up with this idea that you could take thoughts independent like thoughts that are different from one other and put them together and get a new thought that's not identical to any of the earlier two but it's new but it follows .

From the first two that wasn't an empirical idea it was a theory about how to put thoughts together and you know that was Aristotle's logic comes out of that and modern logic is not the same as Aristotle's logic but it's also a theory of how to put thoughts together had a reason now when you have like a ton of premises like a lot of you in the room .

Have been in my classes where I'm laying out like an argument say from the Phaedo or something the final argument and the Phaedo for the immortality of the soul I can never do that one with less than like eight premises and that just means that I don't really understand the argument if I really understood the argument I would sort of know exactly .

Where to focus on and there would just be two premises but it's hard because a lot of details and it's hard to figure out what's important so I think when you see those long arguments those are philosophers struggling with you know not yet having simplified the idea it's just true that we we we that's that's for us like a goal to simplify it to .

That point but we usually can't do it my third criticism and on this one again I'm very very willing to admit indeed emphasize it cuts both ways it reflects some very important virtues of philosophy and flaws of economists if I look at the world of economics as it's communicated to what you might call popular educated audiences on blogs on .

Twitter through journalism that world is mostly controlled by reputable economists now by entering that world those economists seven some ways made themselves stupider or are often more partisan and I would stress not just admit but stress the drawbacks of that process but nonetheless by comparison when I look at the world of .

Philosophy and I should know you are an exception to this but I see the people who have resonance as communicators the people who have influence almost entirely they are not professional philosophers so you have given up control of your field really to ammeters now they may be interesting ad meters they may be brilliant they may be stupid .

We can get to that but if I just go around the country and travel and meet with people which I do really a lot the people I'm asked about who are philosophical I'm always asked like what do you think of the rationality community mostly not professional philosophers some are connected to it I'm asked what do I think of effective .

Altruism William McCaskill at Oxford he's one of the founders he is a very good professional philosopher but it's mostly not professionals what do I think of the intellectual dark web of Jordan Peterson what do I think of Silicon Valley treatments of the Stoics maybe Iran though that's a bit older I could go on and on and on like maybe Peter .

Singer comes up at number nine but even he's a professional philosopher like analytically he's not always that respected by other philosophers at the highest levels so a meters have taken control of your stuff and again I get that what is left is in some ways better smarter purer but nonetheless that is still a criticism I think that .

Philosophy as we know it in the Academy it is losing out very very badly and the competitive struggle of ideas is it that everybody else is losing out because they don't get our awesome stuff of course that means you're about to yeah so I am you said I'm a little bit of an accelerator and I'm on Twitter and not only that not .

Only that but I just agreed recently to write I'm writing who can write a column in this magazine called the point and I wrote my first one but my second one so it's a sort of public philosophy call my second one is going to be called against public philosophy and I told how this earlier he's like wait isn't that the thing that you're doing in the column .

Yes it's the thing I'm doing in the column so I think public philosophy is an OK thing like a pretty good thing and we should do some of it but I also think that there's a kind of trend that I'm seeing like I see it I see it on Twitter because there's a lot of sort of public philosophy stuff that gets tossed around on Twitter people I you know it's kind .

Of been you for that that as though that kind of philosophy where I'm sort of preaching right I'm writing this column no one's gonna really reply to the column it's not gonna be a conversation there's not gonna be a question here after the column I just kind of preach and I can and I write and kind of like .

Pretty English that is fun to read that's that's not all that philosophy can and should be it's something maybe it should be part of the time but but if I were to do that a lot of the time I think I would become filled with a sense of my own knowledge and wisdom in a way that would make me a terrible philosophers would you like to do a .

Comparison of economists and philosophers and I'll name a trait most of these taken from five-factor personality theory and we each say how we view economists and philosophers with respect to that tree are you game I willing to start ok first rate which is not in five-factor theory but I would cite the word boring .

I would say economists are more boring than philosophers agree or disagree we're more narrow more of us do things like enjoy college sports I don't please we're more boring in in you're not talking about in academic writing just or just to me a sense of all things like if I was gonna meet an economist versus meeting a philosopher which one who is .

More boring I say we're more boring were more obsessed with money we're never where we read fewer books I'm tossing you I I guess I just don't know is my answer I don't know who's more important ok go to the next rate the five traits of five factor personality theory extraversion to me it seems both economists and philosophers tend to be .

Relatively introverted i'll more or less call that one a tie I mean they both regularly speak in front of large groups of people like we're doing right now are we introverted you know it this will get us into philosophical issues I sometimes say introverts make the best extroverts so the people who don't get nervous when they're doing public speaking or are .

Often the introverts because they're almost putting on a kind of mask it's almost like a bit of an act and they don't feel that like they are out there and they do it and perform and I think people who are analytical and who are academic they tend to be somewhat introverted the economists and philosophers like know .

Average fit this description roughly equally that's my judgment but it's subjective well if it's the kind of introvert that makes a good extrovert then I think I agree okay disagreeableness which is a technical term right related to its Webster's meaning but disagreeableness I would say philosophers are more disagreeable than .

Economists they're less likely to conform it's related to something you said a few minutes ago we're more conventional economists you're less so yes I agree partly because we earn more money you're selecting for disagreeableness by the philosophy degree itself I think being disagreeable is a good .

Thing on that at most margins that's not in itself don't think Webster disagreeable think five factor personality theory disagreeable it's a way of being a nonconformist I yeah I know I agree I do agree you're supposed to be I think that we're very aware of conventions and the arbitrariness of conventions and that's a big theme in .

Philosophy I mean some there are certain philosophers who are just obsessed with that like Vick and shine it's just obsessed with like just the arbitrariness of like which word is used for which thing and the ways that we do things it kind of with we're we're that fact the conventional facts just seem to sort of make when you look at them the .

Whole world seems to collapse because they're not real and philosophers are really bothered by that and so I don't know whether that makes them less conventional though in other like they're less conventional in their thinking about philosophy I don't know whether that makes them less conventional in how they live their .

Lives or something like that I don't have the data just a prediction conscientiousness I think he caught a mister on average more conscientious they're paid more they're more used to working regularly I've known more philosophers who just like every now do something great and that's my call .

Economists are more conscientious it may be related to us being more boring – I get that um do you think that economists like so it seems I think I think that's right and it seems to me that one for – that economists think of is really important and I think you think of it as important as prudence sort of like kind of self-restraint and like you wrote a .

Column recently about how Americans should be saving more money right yes and I wonder whether economists will kind of space they make for the virtue of courage courage is not a concept which comes easily to my discipline we're very good savers we actually have an outstanding track record as investors at the very least the less informed ones .

Of us note it just buy and hold a diversified portfolio it would be interesting to write into miracle paper on the courage of economists but I do think we're somewhat conventional and probably on average lacking encourage the next PQ you can say more do we go on to the dog gone go on because there's two neuroticism again this is the five .

Factor meaning not exactly the same as the Webster meaning but I think philosophers are definitely more neurotic than economists and some of this can be good so when they see social injustice maybe they're more bothered but neuroticism being a kind of negative balance of emotion which is perhaps emitted too frequently economists as a .

Group I find are very live-and-let-live and really quite low in neuroticism so that prize I give to your friends the Philosopher's weight so it's a neurotic ISM is good well it's good and bad right but you're more you're all more neurotic than we are okay okay and then finally openness openness to .

New experience I think philosophers are somewhat more open than economists sorry this gets back to economists being more conventional and maybe also being paid more I don't know like I I live in a pretty small world like a pretty few spaces that I go between like on this campus I do a lot of the same things I spend hours and hours and hours and .

Hours in my office and I listen to song sometimes like sometimes like 20 30 times in a row so I do a lot of repetitive things like that where I don't seem to be very open to new experiences but maybe I am atypical and other philosophers are more open I don't know about that I would ask you one final question sure um so you could you .

Could think of an economy as like a giant computer that we're all part of right and the like it's running this big program and you know no one could could run it on their own but it needs this distinctive kind of processing power that's not like a computer it's like a brain where the the you know the the program is like these .

Exchanges that we have right so it's like you know I'm like buying something from the grocer and he's getting the money and and they're all these transactions that are happening right and they can only be running on these these funny things brains maybe because maybe because freedom and choice are important maybe for other reasons now .

What I wonder is like so the Internet has made all that much easier and faster right so we can now interact with other nodes in the system at the speed of thought really rather than at the speed of like you know going walking to the store right and so these transactions that we have with one another these these economic .

Transactions are now more digital it couldn't even that's that that's speeding up those transactions is like the primary value of the Internet either somewhat idiosyncratic view on this I like to say we've overrated what the Internet has done for us so far and maybe underrated what it will do for us in the future so I think the primary .

Beneficiaries of the internet or people I call them Infowars who in fact can handle a faster transmission speed for information that is not most people for many people the Internet is replacing network television with Facebook and that is an improvement but it is not a fundamental change the binding constraint is so often on the .

Attention side but if you were someone who voraciously consumes information and has a niche interests the Internet makes you much much much better off including finding the people you can hang out with who are unusual in the way you are unusual so the Internet has been super non-ag a latarian but the main beneficiaries are not the wealthy per se .

They're like the information addicts which is probably a pretty high proportion of the people in this room and it certainly will be almost 100 percent if anyone who watches this video online right now this is one of the things the internet gives you I think it's striking the Internet has not made many physical processes more efficient .

So if you date the onset of the modern internet to the Nate late 1990s since that time economic growth rates have been slower productivity growth rates have been slower so I think the changes of the internet were actually still just seeing what we tend to do is have an institution like higher ed and we tack the internet on top like oh I'll email .

My professor that's fine very convenient what we're not doing is building from the internet first and putting the rest of the organization surrounding the internet and related means of processing information eventually we will get there just take longer than we think so that's addressing if not entirely answering your question so basically things are .

Going to get better in most ways exactly and the ways in which they're not better are not always the way you would thought at first okay all right let's open it up for questions and Rory is gonna keep an eye on you and take the questions so that he can yeah thank you very much Agnes .

culture and the way that this works is conducted like I found that it's very rare eponymous to be inserted with my morality and dignity and whatever and they almost treat each others with like Leslie morality and also things like if you've ever been to like a job talk .

Inside a it's a pretty jumbled it's like horrible studies really you crying somebody with a screen saver like money that's flitting around and then there's less generous to there and I'm wondering is there Thomas to like constantly crimes by the money on the screen paper you know and so I'm just both things and walking across the .

Street was just like a very disorienting experience together public philosophy was like this really safe place where I could disagree with people and not have it be like well you know and then I would walk back over there society it would be personally perfect you know whether you let me just parent so the question is why economists so mean I .

Would first know that if you were to read schools in economics in order of meanness I'm not saying it's correct in my lifetime I've presented to seminars at Chicago one of them the audience was very tough the other time it was not but in terms of external reputation Chicago is considered by far the meanest so keep that in mind there's one paper which .

Shows doesn't prove that when students study economics they come away behaving more selfishly I don't know that this has been replicated a lot of papers testing that kind of proposition have failed to replicate but certainly it is possibly the case sociologically I find economists actually quite easy to work with they .

Understand the idea of gains from trade and cooperation better than new most academics they're very willing to delegate authority they understand risk they understand contracts and if you want to have a cooperative group to get something done I would way rather work with economists then other groups but I think it's quite possibly true .

That we're more selfish and more objectifying and in some ways meaner but I definitely think we're also more cooperative so I want to see all that replicated but I suspect there's something to a number of these tendencies but don't extrapolate just from Chicago this is like home of the meanies .

No question Newman start okay philosophy is about what a good life is so insofar as leading a good life is not independent of trying to understand what that is and trying to consume far as you want to lead your own good life rather than sort of what most people take to be a good life philosophy gives you a way of doing .

That it allows you to kind of appropriate and make your phone concepts like good immorality and hot and show it words that we all have to use and I think that economists have to do more of like delegating that labor to other people in the sense of being more conventional right and being like well other people have .

Figured it out here's like how one should act and so if I'm not gonna worry about that so I think that if your conception of a good life sort of crucially involves taking that kind of ownership over your own values and morals and goals then philosophies for you I would just note that we in economics already have enough .

Competition and if people decide not to give us more that is absolutely their privilege but one other thing I would say politically culturally economics is in some ways more diverse than philosophy so of all the fields of academia philosophy is close to being one of the more left-wing I think anthropology measures as the .

Most left-wing economics is very close to being the most you could call it right-wing though many economists are libertarians it depends on your point of view economics is still like 80 percent Democrat 20 percent Republican remarkable that that's the most right-wing but I actually think in terms .

Of diversity and tolerance and not taking for granted that in on some issues everyone thinks the same way economics is better than most other parts of academia may or may not be a benefit from your point of view but it's at least a consideration I feel like I would even buy thinking an economics class and I think that I mean .

I think if we're just talking about the two of us it's I think it's very clear that it would be me because I know a lot less economic sense time it was philosophy but that's just because of where we're starting from if you pick that average just average economists average philosopher I guess I would think the economists would benefit more .

If you're asking this question from a cost-benefit point of view I say you need the philosophy class bring it on come on these are the two fields that will let you be counterintuitive in politically like why should we care I'm not an expert in the field of climate science but my understanding of the relevant .

Knowledge is that the time horizon for climactic changes will be much sooner than 500 years some people even suggest the vortex out there whatever it's called you know it's not that call tonight actually but it was yesterday maybe due to climate change happening now so it seems again it's an outsider but just from .

What others tell me who might need to our experts that there could be very serious costs over the next 10 to 20 years so it's not even about the distant future but that said my latest book stubborn attachments has a long discussion of why well being of the distant future we should not downgrade imagine that we would go back to .

Antiquity and if you take the logic of compound return seriously it would say that you know Cleopatra not having a small itch on her finger could be worth more than a few million lives today if you discount that a normal market interest rate being at times an intuitionist and philosophy I find that very difficult to accept I think there .

Are a series of steps we could take that would be better both for us and for the more distant future that would give us a higher growth path for GDP in a way that was sustainable and could be done in a balanced budget fashion so that would be like a carbon tax with other changes in economic policy which would speed up our ability to address climate change it .

Won't get rid of it but I think that and moving more to nuclear power deregulating the use of wind power moving back to electric and making a number of other changes one of them being just eat less meat could Duke really really quite a bit right now and make the world a better place more generally I just want .

To repeat part of Caroline's question so suppose I just don't care about people living a thousand years from now I'm just indifferent to the well-being of those people what are you gonna say to make me change my mind I don't view myself as a persuader first and foremost but I'm very influenced by Tom Thomas Nagel and what he's written about there .

Being an objective and a subjective perspective and that a good normative argument has to somehow fuse the two and if someone takes a purely subjective perspective well I just don't care about X as in some of the Socratic dialogues I'm not sure I really have a very strong counter if I can't get them to be at least partly interested in the more .

Objective inter personal interests objective comparison perspective United seems rather happen to be something mister the positive solution for positive thinking like they know very very well taxation Syria all this stuff there to someone who's like very good at both of thinking what kind of world should we have with someone who's .

Very well versed I find it very hard to predict the quality of forthcoming presidents whenever best educated and most qualified presidents of all time was Woodrow Wilson in my opinion one of our worst World War one racist many other bad policies forced collectivization of the economy one of our smartest and .

Probably our most experienced president of all time was Richard M Mixon he actually did many good things but did many many bad things and that assessment is maybe hard to make but there's certainly plenty to object to there Jimmy Carter one of our smartest presidents again mixed record plenty of negatives there so I don't really think .

It's about the education it's something about how a particular set of qualities pieces of knowledge and personality types mesh with a historical moment in a way we're manipulating the education side actually has pretty low returns so going univac to Plato's Republic it seems to me the whole notion of philosopher Kings is a misunderstanding .

Of how the philosophy of history really works well the philosopher Kings are ruling over a very strange Society Plato didn't just say oh let's put the philosophers in charge of us he said like first let's get rid of the institution of the family right that's that's one of the steps at least for the Guardians right so you might almost read .

The Republic is like a story of like how weird society would have to be in order for it to make sense for philosophers to rule as you've heard I'm already like half against public philosophy so I don't know that I want to defend it yet philosophers ruling ulysses s grant and Abraham Lincoln would be two examples of .

Presidents who did some pretty good things who are not obviously qualified in terms of Education so think of it as a kind of multiplicative model many different things have to come together and in that kind of model measuring the marginal product of any single thing is very hard to do words in there I'm not sure how we're defining the most of all .

Irrational the second the question is what is right and wrong so on Twitter Ian's grammar just put up a list of different billionaires and what percent of their money they've given away to charity and Bill Gates is by far number 1 on the list this is highly admirable of Gates and I absolutely feel that more billionaires should be more like Bill .

Gates whether irrational is the correct word to use what you mean by instrumental value that's a little trickier but I will reiterate my claim I think it's perfectly rational to work really hard wanting to become a billionaire even if you only spend 1% of it the notion that building your empire is the right thing to do and fun and .

Glorious and you also maybe can do a good job giving away to charity and you will enjoy that and find it rewarding that to me at least is in principle highly rational just of course a lot of billionaires don't do that I think if the money is your end it's irrational but if you have other ends and the money just comes .

Along with it it's not you've been talking about how markets and other economics and sense of incentives can deceive people and like make them act in ways for reasons they're not being aware out of are you talking about like benefits or self-deception so in a sense there may be systems really cause a gap between reality and .

Appearances and in some big sense it's the job of economics to figure out what's actually going on here is it good the thirty-sixth yeah and like would a just society even have something like would there be economics and just desire there's a lot packed in there I would say economic forces eliminate a lot of harmful self-deception so if you're .

Running a business and you think your profits are high when you're you're losing money well that experiment is going to win pretty quickly and probably it should so you know disaggregate disaggregate disaggregate I think on that but not in every case market economies tend to encourage relatively beneficial forms of .

Self-deception and self-deception for pre-dates markets I wouldn't blame it on markets it's an interesting question like what's the worst kind of self-deception that a market might encourage that would be worth thinking about it could be that we have something like a kind of barter market like in dating so you know you used tender and .

Tender has systems that it won't show you people who are in their opinion too good for you and will always reject you so you kind of self deceived into thinking a lot of people wipe the correct way on you and that's because they're showing you people like in your league as they as it's measured that way maybe there's something wrong with that .

But again compare it to the alternative hard to say definitely it's the risk with assassination markets that you will put it that in the market and then kill someone to win the bet I'm not sure how great a danger that is since we haven't had these markets it's hard to know but .

It it seems like a risk and it also seems to me the information you would get from an assassination market is not very reliable unless the would-be assassin himself or herself is doing the betting in which case you're back to the risk being high so if it's just other people trying to blindly Gatson who will be assassinated I don't think you're .

Learning much from the market and there's some risk you'll encourage wrongdoing now it's an interesting question like the assassination markets really make that worse you could right now buy good options on a company and assassinate the CEO or just try to ruin the product like damper put some poison in the whole foods you know containing .

Or whatever and watch the shares drop and collect your money now to some extent Navy that's more traceable or your uncle does it or you do it you know foreign markets with crypto and complicated issues but there are a surprising number of ways to make money off people dying and we don't see it happening very much so it's at least .

Possible that risk of assassination markets is overblown but look politics is risk-averse you need approval to offer markets to the public or regulators going to give their for that obviously not that I don't really think it's going to happen except possibly in some an image form where people are paying with crypto assets and .

We don't know who's trading there and it's outside the scope of all regulation but then you're back to it just not being very liquid and telling you much and so I don't know I don't think it's a very important market I don't really mind that we don't have it that answered the first part of your question but you know that's some of them actually had a .

Question that I wanted to ask you the more general version is why are prediction markets important prediction markets are very often the best way of knowing what's going to happen so the Super Bowl is on Sunday right I believe so but who's going to win the best way to find out is just to look at the betting odds who's going to win a .

Particular political office the best way of finding that out is to look at the betting odds now what we would like but don't entirely have it's a series of markets that give us information about more important things but these markets tell us about the weather they give us a sense of political risk how business cycles are .

Developing all that is valuable knowledge many people have had the goal of extending the set of these markets so they could tell us about many more things but for reasons we economists don't understand very well at all the liquidity in these markets is actually quite scarce it's very hard to get a new market up and running and sustainable .

And so we're left with markets or some very basic things prediction markets for things which are entertaining like who will win best picture at the Oscars there's a market for that I mean fine know no cost there but hard to see a huge social benefit either it's just something people do for fun that's why they're important they ought to be more .

Important to get there why is that does that mean why's it feels like just wanted me to yes first I would say I'm not at even though this event is billed as economics versus philosophy I'm not actually that keen on the any of these demarcations so what's economics thought to be loose it's become much looser over time we've had a .

Bunch of non economists when the economics Nobel Prize we intersect much more with psychology behavioral Work sociology than we used to why is management so bad I think here there's a distinction between what is useful knowledge and what can be written down well so when you talk to good managers about management I find I learn .

A lot there's a lot which is known but it has to be presented in the kind of context specific way often in a very human form that does not translate well to the written page so management books and articles typically or terrible or just empty or full of to say but I don't think that means management knowledge is always so bankrupt I once made a related .

Point with anthropology a lot of books on anthropology or boring for an outsider because you don't know enough about the culture to grasp the fine points but anthropological knowledge is extremely sophisticated and you often you cannot judge every field by what is in writing it's another thing economics and philosophy have in common that you .

Can actually judge those fields pretty well by what's written down you know for better or worse but don't think that holds for everything it doesn't so they said we could any of this stuff or you wouldn't it wouldn't a good idea to spend so they first I'm kinda wondering how many wives do the same .

Million dollars admittedly such a question I wrote my dissertation on this question actually way back when I don't think economics could tell you exactly how much a human life is worth there are plenty of studies what people are willing to spend to save their own lives .

Viewed as a stochastic problem so you can measure the value of risk reduction it's then philosophically debatable whether that tells you how much a life is worth when it will be taken to certainty and it may matter whether it is an anonymous life like all someone will die of cancer because of this pollution or an identified life like oh .

You know it's little girl fell down the well how much should we spend together out I actually think we should spend much more to save identifiable lives in a number of circumstances maybe not all but the amount of money people will spend to limit risk reduction for themselves when you turn that into a value for a single life it's about four .

To six million dollars so there is an entire army of economic consultants who go around to governments and they say you should spend four to six million dollars to save a life in my opinion that that's wrong I think it's kind of empirically wrong I think context matters so much when you do the actual measurements I also think it's morally .

Wrong I don't think how much people are willing to spend is the only factor there ought to be various philosophical adjustments applied to those numbers again depending on context so that's a good example where I think economists when they confront normative issues just get things terribly horribly wrong but like that number we come up with some .

Number of millions you know for a lot of decisions it's at least giving you bounds like yes spend a nickel to save a life if it's ten billion dollars just realize you could it's another a and save a lot more lives if it's a billion dollars it's still true so you get some broad bands how tightly the band supply depends on how .

Much your social decisions are transitive if you don't spend the money they're really you in fact spend it say on smoke detectors to save lives some other cheaper way a lot of questions rolled up into that economics on its own is not very good at answering those questions philosophy on its own also is not it's a great example where you need .

The two to come together and then like maybe you get somewhere but in any case wherever you get it's probably the best you're going to do so I did not write my dissertation on this question and I haven't thought about it very much what I'm starting the thing more about it um so I I guess I would favor an approach to the problem that doesn't ever place .

Any monetary value on human lives and I have I have kind of let's say a hope that that's a possible way of thinking about the problem and here are two let's say tools that I would use right because of course you do have you do have to make choices and there are trade-offs and all that right so here's one is that sometimes one way we can think about a .

Problem like say should we cancel school today right it's very cold and you know people might be injured or die if they try to go outside to their group classes like I I had this thought I had a class that I was agonizing over when I was canceled and I had our final session of our study group and I really tried to think of ways of avoiding it and then I .

Was like no I have a moral obligation to my students to make sure they don't die in the cold and so but that's the way I thought about it so I thought about it as like an obligation and so there's a question what do we like how much safety do we owe people right and that's something that can change over time I think like I think we now think we owe .

People more safety just even in terms of like slippery steps and things like that right then maybe we thought 20 30 50 years ago I guess my hope is that we can deliberate about what kinds of safety we opie political stances without saying their lives are worth such and such an amount of money so that's one one tool the other tool would be even in cases .

Where we sort of we have to in some sense do the math it might be possible to think about it in the way that I was talking about gift-giving that is sometimes you have to lose some money and you're gonna get something but you shouldn't necessarily see that as purchase right so like I think I when I give Tyler birthday present I'm not .

Purchasing the present that he gives me later if you think about like I don't know the old like temple Judaism or something where like the you know priests in the temple couldn't earn money right and like people were supposed to give some money but they're not paying for them I'm paying for things like being cleansed of blood .

Guilt right that would just be wrong I mean later you do get indulgences and know that right and that's problematic but the the thought is like it might be wrong to think that you're paying buying those things it might be better to think you're giving up some money and you're getting something and those are separable so those might be two tools .

That I would try to apply so as to try to make some of these decisions without ever having to say that a human life is worth a certain money and that's what I want to avoid the situation that is the sorry getting real-world feedback I think it might be a sorry maybe it mean but by improve you mean you mean get more real-world .

Feedback yeah I don't know that I want that um so I think that like if anything maybe I just want to make the world more philosophical and not make me more world like well the way economists can avoid it I think first of all is by investing in having the right peer group up front to have peers who will speak the truth .

To you if you're doing something wrong I think economics in the last two three years has done some good things moving toward a stronger and stricter professional code of ethics I think there's a lot more we could do in the final analysis well that like really stop the bad guys probably not but a lot of people do things that are wrong and .

Those people are not like the bad guys and a code of ethics might help them this is a general question when is it wrong to consult with the government I've met with people you know for many different governments I've never been invited to a government where I really had qualms about doing that I could imagine that I could be and I genuinely .

Don't know where I would draw the line there maybe I would try some of my philosopher friends we're very much as compliments and nada substitutes so philosophy of religion is quite interesting but it doesn't seem to me it's good at asking why our rabbis hate more than priests why do some churches go bankrupt even issues like .

Well if you're religious how does that affect your health and how do we separate out the causal relationship from the correlation it's a kind of question economists now are working on and philosophy just is not going to be good at doing those things so it seems to me if we carve up the territory properly which more or less I .

Think we've done we each of the comparative advantages and why we're doing that to me is a relationship that seems pretty healthy and it's moving along pretty well economics is a big beast so the bigger it gets the greater the variance of its parts so simply with time you can find more parts which are too mathematize that's true so you can .

Say it's becoming too mathematize and you're not wrong but I think at its core there's actually more interest in a lot of techniques which are not so super technical and it's possible to do very well known forms of empirical work which are actually relatively straightforward and simple Steve Levitt at Chicago would be a classic example of someone who in .

Terms of frontier econometrics is not publishing in econometrics but has done some massively influential pieces of empirical work that are pretty easy to understand so I think on that the center of economics has moved away from theory it's become more intelligible become more intuitive .

Less big think maybe too much small think more proprietary data sets common sense is valued more now and I think it was twenty or thirty years ago mostly good shifts on the empirical side I'm not a huge critic of my profession I think it's in pretty good shape we get some other things badly wrong as I mentioned but a lot of things we get .

Right I think literary offenses lens because things like this pick up they can improve can I just sort of like add something to the question I'm not gonna answer it but so one thing that I was struck by that .

We were all struck buying the study group is that like the economic way of thinking about a situation a choice is to sort of try to think about it in more general terms as like something people do regularly or something like that like to to say look this isn't so idiosyncratic isn't just happening to you it isn't it's a kind of there's a .

Kind of generalizing of something like a decision as falling under a tight and you might think that literature one thing that's distinctive about it is that you really focus in on the particularity of say a choice right and an action and a person so that may be one way of getting at like how does an economist face up to that I've actually .

Recently started a paper on how an economist might read Homer's Odyssey it's not very far along but at some point it will pop up by marginal revolution every spring right now I teach a literature course long literature in my law school and I've never taught Macbeth but I've taught a lot of Shakespeare I think I've you take .

Spears may be the single smartest human mind about human beings so putting aside Newton air Einstein our deepest thinker there is actually a lot of economics in Shakespeare maybe less than Macbeth there's some public choice and Macbeth you read Merchant of Venice there's a lot more economics I think you can become a better economist by reading .

Literature gives you a richer sense of context fleshes out human motivation gives you a sense of how behavioral factors that iam saying Persis might matter I think a lot of fictional works you can understand somewhat better by knowing economics a lot not but if you know like social psychology cognitive psychology and some .

Economics and you read Proust does it make more sense absolutely a lot of science fiction it's a very very economics like that there's a kind of model about how society works of knowing some economics can be very useful there a lot of Dickens up makes a lot more sense if you know economic history and economic theory so there are some .

Synergies but I think it's very important if you're an economist to really steep yourself deeply and thoroughly in the humanities and in reading Shakespeare frequently and deeply is one of the very very best ways of doing that that's partly why I decided to teach this literature course which I think I've never taught for 16 .

Years so I think it's related to Norris question actually about defending philosophy and I'm not sure whether all value has to be understood in terms of promoting human welfare I'm not sure that is it's actually a hard philosophical question and I read a .

Paper recently in which the author was arguing that like certain things like say philosophy or art are not valuable because they make our lives better rather they make our lives better because they're valuable so they can't be sort of like measured in terms of our welfare or satisfaction you could say our level of welfare size actually .

Measured in terms of whether it since then I'm not sure whether I agree with that that's one philosopher thinking about this kind of problem right but it at least seems to me to be worth keeping in mind as a conceptual possibility that something like maximizing and aggregate welfare is only one way to think about .

Value and it's maybe a way that you're inclined to think about value if you don't want to think a lot about what value is but you kind of want a system to plug in – it's like a good system plug in – right that's why I say it's related to this thing I said to ignore which is like but so one thing you might want to do is find a system that's .

Pretty plausible plug in to that and then and then you can start maximizing another thing you might want to do is try to understand what value is and what it would be to live a good life and philosophers I think are pretty selfish in that we just want to know those things and I'm not I don't want to say that we're not interested in helping .

People but maybe we're not interested in like a certain kind of help right um that is we want to help people who also help us like our students right where when you're teaching them and they're asking you questions you're also understanding the thing better that's a particular kind of helping right there's a particular kind .

Of relationship there and there's another kind of helping that you can do where you're helping people who are really far away who you're never gonna get to know and you're giving them necessary but not sufficient conditions on happiness and I think it's okay that there are people of who do different kinds of helping it can I try answering .

That even though it's for you as an economist I always want to say disaggregate this aggregate disaggregate so this biomedical ethics I don't actually personally know how much it helps people but it's there it has a big role in the real world we're probably going to need it a lot more so the question of what should we .

Allow from genetic engineering it won't just be shaped by philosophers but it could be one of the very biggest most important questions before us and philosophers should and may be well has a big voice in it business ethics is a field where philosophy in my view has not done very well and not been influential but I could imagine a world .

Where that would be different I would like to see such a world then it would have really a bigger impact but just a general notion what's special about life in the West is we have a particular tradition Greek Roman Christian Judaic whatever the Enlightenment whatever else you put into the mix and that that's arguably the .

Single most important thing we have so the notion that you would hire a set of people who whose main job is just to keep on reexamining and updating what that tradition means and that actually is highly useful even though we never see the use to both symbolically and practically speaking if we stopped hiring people to think at the deepest .

Level what do all those things what are they actually about it could just be we'd be shooting ourselves in the foot in a massive way and when we have them around they look kind of lenny what are you doing but i compared to the world when they're not there maybe it's pretty awesome ever since week on that's true in pain .

So far candy crush and so the way really free to play for or content and features an economist would say well people choose to generalize forcing you like candy right now it's your own choice whereas I think the philosopher might pronounce into another it's not a good use of your time buddy .

Not we quitter back and luck if there's a way for blockers to pass judgment really useful John that work clusters oh that's for you Agnes um I'm just gonna say that there's actually kind of really interesting paradox here that David's pointing out which is that philosophers have all this like you know .

I don't know they've done all this work to try to have moral theories and to be in a position to moralize but they don't actually moralize very much right i mean they're don't go out in public and say it's immoral to download candy crush or don't download candy crush right they're not there isn't that much public philosophy and then Economist's right .

Who have no place making these sorts of judgments are the ones making them so in the sense that they're not you know they don't take themselves as a matter of professional competence to be in possession of ethical principles they may have its local principles but they're not that's not as a professional matter right they're not that's not .

Expertise and so it's it's interesting that like that that distribution is interesting and kind of paradoxical and I wonder I mean you know I don't know the most moralizing moralist of all time was maybe a manual conned right and then in this second I think it's the vidi it's been like a long time since I read it I think it's the beginning of the .

Second part of the groundwork he says like and he's already talked to you all about how like you know you can't ever tell a lie even if there's a murderer they're all the kind of stuff right so but so you already have the taste of his like very rigorous t'k and demanding ethical system and he basically tells you that you can never judge anyone you .

Can never morally assess any other person because you don't really know their motives in fact you can't really assess yourself because you can never know that you were following the moral law from duty rather than from some kind of incentive and those kinds of those forms of self-knowledge are basically you know .

They're too subjective self-deception complex context you have to do the right thing you have to follow the moral law but judging people including yourself is just incredibly hard right so maybe philosophers are still we've inherited that either we've inherited it or it's just there's something in there's something in the philosophical approach .

To a situation or problem or whatever where we see like we are we're just not going to jump to the conclusion that's the problem we take a million steps to the conclusion instead of jumping to it right and moralizing usually involves kind of making that jump that philosophers are unwilling to make I would i can't address those specific .

Aims because i don't know them but there is some work in economics that has looked at harmful addictions and there are striking demographic features for one part of the United States population has many fewer harmful addictions than in the past I think education is the single best predictor but not the only and another part of the u.s. prediction .

The US population seems to have more harmful addictions than in the past so the economic contribution there may be would be to figure out empirically what is predicting a greater resilience against harmful addictions again not knowing if this addiction is harmful or not and then through public policy trying to address how much of that is .

Causal and then to the extent it's causal how can we spread more of the positive features to mark the population in general it's not clear to me that gamification is a bad thing it may help us educate people much better I suspect we're learning a lot from computer games and video games it's hardly something I know much about but very often my .

Sympathies are with gamification not against it I had a different question before but I was really interested by this discussion about like things being intrinsically valuable besides welfare and I was wondering if you can expand on that how I can send in the paper it's not my it's just a paper I read like couple days ago .

Susan wolf the other um one here's one way here's a way that like GE more thought about that he said we'll do the following thought experiment just imagine a world with nothing in it okay and then stick something in there like a chair or something and then think is that better .

So like imagine a world with nothing in it and then now put like put like a chair in there and then is that is that better anything not not really and that's my tuition yeah faster and this is an intuitive question right and then now you can ask like well what about if there was like a work of art there I think it's not obvious in fact .

It's not if just the work of art without anyone to appreciate it it's not it's not obvious to me that it's not worse um but you can try and attest I guess with a bunch of different things and then try to think about like what else do you need to put in right in order to construct some value how much do we need to stick into the story to get value and .

You know more thought at any rate that this is a kind of test for what is intrinsically valuable that if if if just adding it to a world makes that world more valuable than that thing is intrinsically valuable so that that's one fill some philosophers approach to this sort of problem III guess I personally don't think it's .

Great because it's not it leaves unclear the relations when you have to add more than one thing like suppose that in order to make the work of art valuable you have to person in there and still not obvious that the work of art is only valuable instrumentally to contribute the person's welfare so it it works less .

Well when you have to put more things it doesn't tell you about the relationship between the things in the world they have to have more than one thing basically but but off the top of my head that's the thing that occurred to me to add to it I would stress two points in response to that first how we measure human welfare is quite ambiguous and I .

Think a lot of the ambiguities are conceptual and not just practical so the very notion of human welfare requires that we at some point bring in some external values which are themselves not reducible to human welfare I'm not sure I always know what those values are but if someone says well all that matters is that which relates to human welfare and .

External values can't matter the concept of human welfare is probably in some way parasitic on some external values I think also the economic modeling technique of social choice theory is useful for thinking through some issues of aesthetics so probably I think if there's only a painting and no sentient beings in the universe the painting has .

No value but that doesn't mean if there are sentient beings the value of the painting is reducible to his welfare effects for those beings I suspect that is not the case the relationship there is not an additive one that something greater is added and the aesthetic in that situation takes on some value not just reducible to the preference of the .

Preferences of the individuals that's criticism of my this remark and its online Lucas called stubborn attachments Google stubborn attachments tastic essay it was even featured on the browser so how can I not give you that answer um best Kurtis so um my my there haven't been that many criticisms like published of my book but um let's see .

There was one recently I guess I would say my best criticism I've received so many great criticisms but they are they don't tend to be they haven't mostly been like written criticisms of my work mostly the good criticisms that I get are when I give a talk or something and then people in the audience ask questions and then I can't answer them .

And then I know that there's a problem or I think I can answer but then later like eats away at me so that one of those criticisms produced my book actually I was giving a talk that was based on my dissertation at MIT and aggressed and it was a theory of weakness of will that I was putting forward in a grad student asked just .

Gave this counter example of a case of weakness of will that did not fit my model and I was of course my response was like no no I can make it work I can make it work and then you know I said that and then she came back and then I'm like yeah but you know and I put it on to caveats and a bunch of I was like I was really trying I was really fighting .

And but then I knew I hadn't really answered it so I emailed her and I'm like okay here's my better answer and she writes back like she's still just right eventually I mean it took me like weeks to realize she was just right and I was wrong and she'd refuted my theory because it was not a good theory of weakness of all .

There were just cases of weakness of will that it didn't capture and there were cases the cases of non-league visible that it did and what i then the thing was my theory was still good now it seems still good to me even though it was not a good theory about the thing it was supposed to be a theory of and so what I did was actually switch .

The topic of my theory like I kept the theory but just shifted it over on to a different object and that object was aspiration and that made me realize that I had been I had been trying to talk about something without knowing that I was trying to talk about it I wouldn't have realized that if I had gotten that criticism so I would say .

That's the best criticism in relation to my book maybe um I think that the best thing that I did for public philosophy is being director of undergraduate studies actually I think that's my best role as a public foster and it's because like .

It's because I can be close to the good that I'm doing and I think in philosophy it's very hard to do good from far away I'm like it's not that kind of philanthropy it's not the kind of philanthropy bit works that are really big distance but now distance is much harder concept when we have the Internet right um you know what worry about like .

Say Twitter is that it's a very inegalitarian space in the sense that people have different numbers of followers and that actually really affects how people interact with one another and you might think well I mean when I interact with my students I'm not like on par with them because I'm the teacher but oddly there's there's a .

Really big a latarian quality I think to a classroom that is very hard to replicate in other circum and not only to a classroom but like even to an environment like this like we only we just don't appreciate we're not even like where should we so swim in the egalitarian waters here that we don't even like feel it but I think when you .

Give a talk like anyone can just speak up and if they have a good point like I have to respond to it and like that you know the woman who made this objection to my like paper I would never have thought like you know at the time like well you're only a graduate student I'm a professor or something like no that that that sort of thing just doesn't .

Matter at all it but it's actually really hard there's all you need to put a lot of work into creating an environment and that doesn't matter and that's one of the things at university is as an economist you know I often draw the distinction between talk and action so this is a public event I'm glad it's .

A public event there's a camera here not my doing I'm happy the cameras here and whoever put the camera here I would say is for public philosophy so we could investigate you know in the coming weeks who put the camera here who organized the event I'm not really sure but I think the public out there is hungry and they are hungry for much smarter .

Material then virtually anyone had ever imagined it doesn't mean that all of it will be smart and someone is going to fill that void I would like to see it be philosophers much more than is the case now and I would just strongly heartily with the fullest of my enthusiasms applaud whoever it might have been who organized this event put the camera here .

We'll release the video with some distance what you think the value of such a distinction is because for example students we have master's degrees in public policy learn how to do cosmetic analysis in a way that's usually done in like any papers these days is that you .

Kind of add up the cost and the benefits you compare these two numbers but it's only recently that it promises because to think more about like distributional effects and I guess like what I'm asking is that there's always a value judgement and what economist believes is a valuable question to study now this is especially saying that we still need now .

That the profession is having a reckoning with gender discrimination in the profession I think that there's a time earlier that many of council think that either there's like insufficient evidence to show that an economist tend to be sexist like even within the profession or they could say that it's just like not an interesting question .

And it seems to me like the claim that economics is not commercial is more often used as a budgeting tool to kind of dismiss those sorts of concerns and and yet it kinda seems like really cling to that idea maybe most for that reason and I wonder what the value of that section is I agree with all of that I would stress the coming of interesting .

Concerns of distribution that's a very old thing it's not recently we've always struggled with that economics is best understood as a bunch of a Lele people making a lot of mortgage of mistakes that said if someone insists to you well the proposition the price of tomatoes goes up people buy fewer .

Tomatoes that is value free so there one has to recognize there's a values before are people just think you don't understand why economics is but again a public behavior is pretty bad and we cite the value freedom of that course I just ask you about that claim you just made about how it's not free to say if the price between this go up people buy .

For tomatoes so I mean it seems to me that the basic principle there is that people are optimizing in a certain way right so they're they they want the good and they want more of it if they can have more and to the extent that you see people not doing what seems bad for them you aren't climbed to saying well maybe I misunderstood in this situation maybe .

There is a hidden good here or maybe their self deceived or something like that you have to start to invoke more theory right to understand why people do things where they don't seem to be getting more of the good but that idea that like the idea that everyone desires the good I mean that they expect with these Socrates right a lot of the .

Socratic dialogues and I don't see it as neutral I see it as a claim about the value orientation of human beings gary becker who before he passed away taught here for many decades he published a paper I think in 1961 more or less showing that downward sloping demand curves would be the regularity even in a world where people were irrational .

Because if your demand curve sloped upwards you would exhaust your budget constraint and you would get to the point where it had to slope downwards now you could argue how a priori an argument is that but I don't think you need value judgments about people doing the right or wrong thing to say if the price of tomatoes goes up dot dot dot .

Whatever effect you're going to predict there may be an empirical presumptive just presupposition that people value something but again that's a factual claim it could be factually wrong I don't think it is a value Laden claim itself so I do want to hold on to the value neutral nature of the core while basically granting the broader points .

You're making I mean maybe maybe it's not so much a value claim as something like a basic principle of something like action theory where to see what people are doing is buying right as opposed to something more incoherent like throwing away money right and to see them as making choices is to see those choices as rationalize about at least from their .

Point of view in terms of something that seems in some way good to them some kind of anthropology is needed the one thing striking to me you know as the decades have passed is how rare the unusual results turn out to be so sometimes you'll hear it said well there are some goods when the price goes up people buy more of them because it's a .

Status good to have paid more and that is logically entirely coherent but it's very very hard to find such cases even backward bending labor supply curves which are fully consistent with all theory well you're paid so much your wage you end up working yes it's not nearly as easy to find as .

You would think though there are some cases of it so the streaked brood first-order substitution effect with time and more empirical studies has actually ended up looking more convincing than we used to think a few decades ago from the first order route economics the .

Simplest form utility is ordinal utility so most people want to do it which was no expostulated then it doesn't maximize the utility may be pathologist's I'm not sure most people I think the better approach is to ask it what margin so if I'm 83 years old and dying of terminal cancer and I'm told that they can slow down time for me and I'll get 300 years .

Of the experience machine I mean you not become how many do that so at some margins that makes a lot of sense and I think people will do it so the younger you are the less likely you are want to do it it's not real life but don't assume it's always a mistake to plug into the experience machine a correct theory you ought to tell you .

When it makes sense when it doesn't economics by focusing on some origin it won't give you a complete normative theory but at least you can begin to address movies there are two three hours long they're getting longer at 3-view 17 minutes my goodness people are more plugging into the experience machine so you can actually .

Use economics to treat this as a marginal choice so actually think philosophers would just say don't plug into it if you wants for say whoo that's an interesting question and then they want it they want an argument for why you should or shouldn't plug into it when I present this to my students here's one way that I present the at .

Least the case for not plugging into it um imagine that like you had a best friend right since you were a young child had a best friend and you know this person grew up with you and you were very close to them and now like as a matter of fact this person has always hated you but when they were child their parents were paid to like sir make them .

Hang out with you and then as they got older like they were paid themselves to pretend to be your friend basically they were really good actor so they were sort of convincing and the question is like the the thought discovering that it's so horrifying right that's this person you thought was your friend was not your .

Friend I guess harnessing that core is a way to get a grip on what's problematic about the experience machine and then you might ask well that one part so let's say you could just make that friend when you were old like at the age of 70 there could be this person who pretends to be your friend .

And I don't know it might matter like your level of cognitive decline or something at that point cuz like maybe you're you're 70 or 80 and you're living in a nursing home and you actually do have like false beliefs about like what the people in the nursing home are like your close friends as opposed to being paid to take care of you right so I .

Actually think I think cognitive decline makes a big difference here but setting aside cognitive decline assuming like say I'm 80 and I'm like cognitively totally fine would I want because I only have a few years left would I then want you know of it to be the case that unbeknownst to me there was somebody who pretended to be my friend .

I just think I would never want that it might be just the kind of narrow bar like let's just say comest focus more on me like money and cost/benefit after like side also ever and maybe philosophers will focus more on the so-called value or like more moral value or whatsoever it's it's a question for all time so I'm interested in how an .

Economist view the benefit of philosophical values and how does the last you the philosophical philosophical value of the money and like cost-benefit which economists are always super sensitive it's like how do you view each other supported from your own yeah maybe I'll start and say so I didn't know much .

About economics before like our study group and one of the papers that we read was put forward this this beer it's called the Coase theorem says that you know if say you and I are in a position where we are in conflict over some say some resource so an example is like I I'm a confectioner and I have loud equipment and you're a doctor and you .

Have an office next door and so my loud banging is preventing you from doing your medical practice right and then there's a question well who has the right to do right so so do I have the right to operate my equipment or do you have the right to silence in your office and like as you know the way I was inclined to think about this was well .

The court has to determine who has the right right so what COEs argues in this paper is like actually it doesn't matter who has the right because whoever can make more use of the factor of production which is here surface space is gonna pay off the other person right so like suppose I have the right but you can make so much money doing your .

Medical practice but you'll say yeah but I'll just give you some of my money to let me run it right it'll be worth it to you if you can make more that I can make and so the essentially the the the distribution of the resource is going to be efficient it's gonna go to the person who can use it better no matter what the courts say about who has .

The right okay so that just blew my mind I'm in that paper like it's amazing it's gonna mean to me it's an amazing result if you think about it it once you start thinking about in the abstract it's like okay all it really says is that like people will sort of negotiate in a way that makes everybody better off I mean some on somewhat abstract level but that .

Was just wasn't a way that I had of thinking about the question about mutual harm you know it was sort of just an amazingly I don't know detached and kind of enlightening way of thinking about that kind of transaction and and kind of pushed me away from let's say a legalistic way that I would have thought about it otherwise so that's just an .

Example of something where I feel like I think differently about a certain kind of interaction because I've read something in accounts one thing I've gotten from philosophy is just an understanding of how badly wrong economists tend to go on normative issues what an economist might say about ethics it's just a sight an equity .

Efficiency trade-off and not even appreciate there might be other normative issues to consider which is just a primitive mistake and probably not understanding either equity or efficiency very well so I read a good deal in philosophy most of all in the area of ethics just to try to improve how I would use my economics and it's a .

Very hard thing to do I think philosophers themselves would tell you they have not figured out ethics but just like the best argument for economics is to talk to someone who doesn't know any the best argument for philosophy in particular ethics is to talk to someone who's never studied any and once you view it in those terms like .

What would it be like if you this knowledge away it seems pretty obvious to me that it's valuable our Vigo like the legality of certain economic decisions for markets in terms of our federal law dictates that whether directly or indirectly you can't set up a system that kills someone or psychologically or physically Harmison .

And whether that's direct murder or hiring assessing or locking the room and letting starvation to take care of them and so if you were to premeditatedly set up a system and when we change we have the capacity to change our status but as each time you keep selves over creating a new system if we were to create a system that leads to tons of Americans .

Suffering from starvation or from lack of clean water or from lack of access to health care which currently is the case is that not illegal according to our current legal system that's a philosopher's question I don't think it's illegal to have people who end up dying because of bad institutions it may be unwise or wrong but it seems .

To me quite far from illegal and various levels of courts have ruled on the fact that America allows people to die in through various ways when I say die died sooner than the other right they're all going to die it seems to me that's very clearly legal but maybe I misunderstood the question yeah I mean I guess you won one one .

Distinction to bring in would be like an expected versus an intended effect so like if we outlawed motorcycles there would be fewer deaths right and we don't do that and we do it we don't do it in the knowledge like in the expectation that these people will die but that's not the same thing as intending for people to die and so like what's like .

And of course there's issues negligence right so that's that's where it gets right so that distinction is going to take care of everything but just because there's negligence it doesn't follow that there aren't like simply expected but unintended effects right and so in in in some like that's going to cover some territory I think .

And it seems to me it's gonna cover most of the cases that you're thinking of but again I think it's going to how much liability say the government has or something like that maybe relative to time and place and resources right there's question of what we hope people how much safety how much well-being how much protection we know people and and .

So if you think about well look we owe them this much and we're not doing it then that's gonna be negligence but are there any kind of dramatically consistencies or major points of intentions that you see and I guess the methodologies of the universe of philosophy and the me particularly around notions of value and I think .

Maybe an emerging question of sets is how is it the economics isn't simply a subsection of philosophy maybe everything is I think that like maybe Tyler and I have quite different approaches to this problem like Tyler wants to make peace and I want to make more and I think that he's more successful than I am like he hasn't been .

More successful in this conversation in making peace than I have been in making war so maybe that's like an indication that they're not as incompatible as I would like them to be because it would be wonderful if there were an enemy and then we could fight and then we can learn so much because that's how philosophers learn is by trying to .

Refute people and often we learn by trying to refute other philosophers but Tyler has been encouraging me to branch out so you know trying to refute an anonymous but it's actually really interesting that people don't I don't know they don't tend to want to fight they don't tend to want to frame things in a way in which a fight will be the .

Natural way to structure the interaction right and and perhaps just because that's the wrong way to frame it like perhaps that you know like like the the philosophy of religion point that time I mean where it's like well look the economists are asking one question the philosophers asking another question and it's like it'll be quite a lot of the .

Work to somehow move that conversation into yeah but you guys are asking the wrong question and this is the right question this is a question that stacks we're not allowed to ask your question that's what we wouldn't have to do and I and I guess I would I would sort of prepared to do that but it would almost be like well in a philosophy class I .

Would do it and a philosophy class I would defend the questions we have not just questions we're asking because we happen to be in a philosophy class they're the right questions to be asking yeah I know there's some rambles on that I tend to be a philosophical nominalist so when you say economics philosophy those are .

Not ontological entities it's not like you know Godzilla and Mothra and King Kong with their fighting or their friends I so often prefer the anthropological approach and I tend to see anthropology as a one of the more fundamental disciplines what our economist is actually like you can measure that what are philosophers .

Actually like you know I actually gave my accounts of where we're similar where we're different I don't know that anyone has written papers measuring those things but I think you could it would be interesting to me personally at least the sociological differences are the ones important for understanding what's .

Actually going on I would want to serve with a new paradox and some people have even argued this is nice morphic just for background information I guess I think that I can imagine thinking about my situation in two different ways I can imagine thinking about it from the point of view of like immediate .

Self-interest right which would I think lead me to the outcome that will be worse for me am i perfect right so that is I think a kind of like selfish term myopic maximization of utility thinking to myself wow look whatever he does I'll be better off with my new axe right and then that's one way to think about it or I could think like look let me not think .

About this in terms of utility at all let me just think about it in terms of more principle what I to do morally and and there I think we'd end up in the situation that's better for both of us so and I think they are not thinking about utility or welfare at all I'm just thinking about a principle and acting in accordance with the principle and so the .

Question for me is which of those two modes of thought I would be employed in that situation and I think I've noticed in my own life that I sometimes employ the one mode of thought and I sometimes the other and it depends on contingent features of the circumstance that make that more of that seemed appropriate and so I think I just don't know enough to .

Know which of those two ways I would be thinking about the progress it has reached sort of fundamental barrier and if it is the case that it can't progress any further how many of the problem is that the philosophy for the perception of so what the night report is that I don't seem to make progress in thinking about .

That question I think about a lot and I and I kind of bounce back and forth and sometimes I'm like we've made tons of progress human rights I think that is philosophical progress and but a lot of the what I would call the progress of philosophy is more like philosophy filtering in and trickling down into a whole bunch of different areas of human .

Life such that those categories and concepts and judgments become second nature to people and they don't even realize that it came from philosophy and then I mean that can that can they can inform other disciplines or can just inform like ordinary intuitions like the way that we talk about things and their properties .

It's just indebted to Aristotle in deep ways that none of us have to think about and so there's a way in which we make progress because of philosophy right but if you think about has philosophy made progress in the sense that like do we still need to read Aristotle and try to understand what is the basis of a distinction between a thing and its .

Properties like today I thought a class in which we talked about the difference between a mere property like a quality of something like being blue or you know hot and then a property like the form where that's what it is to be the thing and not the significance of that distinction and I don't think more done trying to understand it I think we are .

Still grappling with that distinction even though it is trickled down into our minds so that you know the world is made progress because of philosophy I think that I think that philosophers don't ever seem to get beyond get to a point of thinking where it's no longer relevant to them to think about even the most initial and basic ways of .

Putting our problems maybe some of that is just that we have to keep starting over with new people like and and because philosophy involves a kind of appropriating of everything for yourself that you have to really understand it on your own terms and you can't delegate any of it it's like a cop it's like pressing the restart button and so I .

Feel very differently about the prospects of humanity if we could all live like a whole lot like hundreds or thousands of years longer I don't think I guess I I worry less that we would be stuck in a rut or maybe some of us would but I think it would actually offer like incredible philosophical opportunities because we can just do philosophy for a .

Lot longer inside of one mind I would stress optimistically and the number of people many more people today I understand Plato Shakespeare you pick it than ever before in human history that's huge progress but also to go back to Maya nominalism just ask the simple question can human beings in virtually all fields .

Of endeavor ask better questions today than they could 50 years ago obviously overwhelmingly yes and that has to mean a huge win for philosophy whether or not it's all under that academic department this is what we for your climate spread between my academia Oh what did you there's a movie calling .

Philosophers like Tyler gave a list of people you know Jordan Peterson intellectual darkweb effective altruism like that where you could call them some of them are professional philosophers and maybe more of them would call themselves philosophers there's a real question about who gets called the philosopher and like so one thing about .

Philosophy like that you may have noticed if you're a philosophy major is that we have we're may be alone among the departments in how strict we are about counting a course taught in another department as credit for your major namely we never ever do it we just won't even if it's like in some sense obviously a philosophy class we won't do .

It right so we're like very heavily credential eyes right you might wonder why and the answer is that like we can't be policing who are the philosophers and who aren't and so we just have to use what's taught in our department as being what we're just gonna call that philosophy and that's what gives you credit for a philosophy major and .

Anything else in the university may well be philosophy but we're not gonna put ourselves in the position of judging whether it is or isn't right and like I noticed in in a previous lifetime I was a classicist and classes sister much less that way like they don't care like they don't care as much like that you got a certain degree or whatever in .

Classics because they can just test you on the languages or whatever and they may know that you know what you have to know to be a classicist right and both philosophy it's just a lot harder to do that so it's a lot harder to say who the philosophers are and certainly there going to be some groups of people .

Willing to call themselves philosophers who want to do that but if then if you want to ask well what about academic philosophers right you know like are we gonna get people in universities who have PhDs and philosophy and who are like on tenure track and have tenure era you can get those people to do this that's gonna be harder because they .

Already have jobs and their jobs contain value systems of what it is to succeed in their world right and the thing you're describing doesn't fit that well and in that it wouldn't make them feel like they were a success at what they're doing so it it might be hard to to get them to do it maybe you could get something that's that's just a question .

About motivation whether it would be good or not I'm like inclined to think in terms of would it be good for them and and my thought is like probably not but would it be good for the world I think I just don't know Kierkegaard came along today and submitted either-or this is doctoral dissertation I asked this question in Michigan I was at a .

Tartar a week ago I asked the philosophers there would it be approved they said no that were his admission essay we wouldn't even let him study here so it's possible philosophy is applying a filter which is too strict undercutting its own greatest previous achievements if you ask the question who's the most influential philosopher .

Today I'll give you my answer then I'll ask Agnes but you know it might be Peter Thiel Peter Thiel was an undergraduate major in philosophy he studied with Rene Girard at Stanford when Mark Zuckerberg came along with Facebook Peter basically was the guy who funded him he said I read rené girard I know about mimetic desire this is going to be a beginning .

I'm going to give money to fund Facebook takes off that's influence that's philosophy whether you like it or not Peter Thiel right now they will be the most influential philosopher in America for that in addition to other reasons but Agnes you tell us who was the most influential philosopher both within .

Academia and for the general public I'm just gonna answer one so I think maybe maybe someone like Nigel Warburton who is a big champion of the public philosophy that I feel conflicted about so he's somebody who is spreading the idea of philosophy and of philosophy being beneficial to everyone and a philosophers operating outside the .

Academy often in ways that I find questionable but he's spreading that more than anyone elses and so like like like my son listened to an audio tape of the history of Western philosophy that was like done by him right that's that's the philosophy that my son has encountered I think a lot of a lot of people if they're gonna encounter .

Philosophy will be through him so I think the idea that there's an expressive value choice also comes from George Akerlof but it's a much much older idea actually coming from philosophy I think you've been helping to create economics and political science and charitable giving and voting behavior a lot of consumption behavior .

That's not obviously enough to speak to yourself or buying a car so I'm at the head of that general approach I think it's often hard to make it testable be ugly that it either doesn't have any specific content or you give it too much specific content and then you're not testing the ad itself it is testing some very narrow auxilary hypothesis but I .

Think that there was on the right track he's one of the smartest economists of the 20th century and most thing I think we all want to do more work on that area oh wait hold on tonight tonight we first suppose that Adam Smith's tried to submit his works for getting an economics PhD would he get I would this gives back to what's economics and .

What's philosophy goes to Wealth of Nations these a work of history actually or it's trying to fume any carrying work or even a theory of politics theory of what a nation could be a lot of it I read is a response to Plato at Plato's Republic it's an alternative view of had the pieces should be arranged I would give that word a PhD in philosophy now .

For sure the best parts in economics that had replicated and wouldn't be new so we could give it PhD in economics I don't think he father should drive out of moral philosophy he's more or less retired anyway I didn't think you know principal economic economist it should be much broader but I strongly believe that and I put a lot of effort .

Trying to achieve that in but that said the combination of rising salaries stronger pressures for specialization just the demand of papers be much longer it used to be the average Journal paper used to be like 70 pages now it's for the very very dominantly there are Burton papers 80 90 pages who said to da are they published but is basically .

Written an 80 page paper I think we're not properly balancing in a bank one versus type two error there are fewer explicit errors but in some ways we're less creative and we have overshot on that and in both economics and philosophy I'd rather have more open environments where you didn't have to do so much to respond to Malta referees and .

We were more willing to let mistakes get published but we'd also have more advances and maybe more grateful and I don't I don't really see the clock going backwards I think what's happening is you get so much specialization it's opening up these huge gaping holes they're kind of maybe generalizes I'm one of them that's how I've made my .

Career and the more and more those people specialize like we're going to the problem by having a few more naked generalists with very broad audiences rather than reversing this irreversible trend I I don't know whether I would have accepted care garden to my grand program but I think maybe like I thought we should accept .

Basis of some weird right examples accept or let them finish I mean well you said accept into the grand program right yes like philosophy with the funnier notion of progress and originality I think you should let him finish with either/or whereas I don't think we can let Adam Smith finish with thee now no longer .

Original wealth of nations yeah I mean I Caribbean are nine would have if he had been my graduate student we would have had some some hard conversations like Socrates because I think is really wrong Socrates so the work wouldn't have been the same I would hope I think in philosophy there's a really big problem and I don't know how to think about it .

Which is that the increase of specialization means that people can't talk to each other that well anymore and in economics that may not matter but in velocity of matters a lot somehow in philosophy it's just really important that everybody to be able to that there be a community of people who can all talk to each other and in a way we're .

More interested in that than we aren't talking to the outside world but maybe maybe the increase of public velocity kind of corresponds to the sort of downfall of philosophy as a community people who can talk to each other maybe that's the part of it you're making you think that's like that's what part of the bothers me about it is like it's a .

Sign of that it's like I should be talking other philosophers but there's so many other philosophers who just really have no interest in like any of the things that I work on and you know so we're but we're supposed to be in the same field and like it's not just that in philosophy it's supposed to be a certain kind of community so but I have .

No idea how you how you fix that problem how you create something where you can still have a conversation when there's so many more people and there's such a pressure to yes to specialize because you have to be adding something have to be publishing you'll be adding some new thing and the way that goes is through specialization should we should we stop .

Yeah let's let's let's stop there because we're past our time thank you guys so much thank you for sticking around


Most Popular