« Happy Eastern Easter! | Main | Song of the Day #1784 »

The Dialectics of Liberty: A Colloquy on Deirdre McCloskey's Chapter

For those of you who have been interested readers of The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom, co-edited by Roger E. Bissell, Chris Matthew Sciabarra, and Edward W. Younkins---and even for those of you who are not---we have a very special treat that we've posted on the home page to the book. The discussion of Chapter 8: Free Speech, Rhetoric, and a Free Economy, written by Deirdre McCloskey, will be featured on her own site shortly. But she has given us permission to reproduce it on the DOL site.

As McCloskey states in her abstract:

Adam Smith declared in 1762: "The offering of a shilling, which to us appears to have so plain and simple a meaning, is in reality offering an argument to persuade someone to do so and so as it is for his interest. . . . And in this manner everyone is practicing oratory on others through the whole of his life." Yes. The market is a form of persuasion, sweet talk. The changing of minds by speech accounts in a modern economy for fully a quarter of labor income. Rhetoric strongly parallels the liberal theory of markets and politics.

For those who don't know much about Deirdre McCloskey (shame on you!), here's her bio (from our volume):

Deirdre Nansen McCloskey taught until 2015 economics, history, English, and communication, adjunct in philosophy and classics, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Author of eighteen books and some 400 scholarly articles ranging from technical economics and statistics to gender studies and literary criticism, she has taught in England, Australia, Holland, Italy, and Sweden, and holds ten honorary degrees. Her trilogy of books (2006, 2010, 2016) on the "bourgeois era" explains modern liberty and riches not from trade or exploitation or science, but as an outcome of a new respect after 1700 and especially 1800 for commercially tested betterment, Adam Smith's "liberal plan of [social] equality, [economic] liberty, and [legal] justice." McCloskey is often classed with "conservative" economists, Chicago-School style (she taught in the Economics Department there from 1968 to 1980, tenured in 1975, and during her last year also in History). She still admires supply and demand. But she protests: "I'm a literary, quantitative, postmodern, free-market, progressive-Episcopalian, Midwestern woman from Boston who was once a man. Not 'conservative.' I'm a Christian libertarian, or a humane liberal."

With special thanks to those who participated in this part of our ongoing discussion of the book (which began in mid-February and will end in mid-June), I present that colloquy here.

Many reviews of the book are forthcoming as is special news of important things to come. Stay tuned!