The latest edition of former economics professor Mike McPherson’s book, Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy and Public Policy, receives praise at Crooked Timber, one of the premier academic group blogs.
This is the perfect book for many of our readers, presenting moral philosopical ideas in a way that directly shows how and why they matter for issues in economics and public policy. It contains accessible introductions to ideas in economics and moral philosophy (eg utility theory, social choice theory, game theory, libertarianism, utilitarianism and egalitarianism) and uses the controversies around pollution transfers and school vouchers to illuminate the debates about these concepts, and to show why those debates matter for public policy. There’s a great analysis of the notorious Larry Summers memo, a chapter which outlines the incredibly intricate “equality of what?” debate and an illuminating chapter about efficiency (which everyone who dares to use the word “efficient” should be forced to read if only that were efficient). It is one of those unusual books which is great for an undergraduate or graduate class, but which as a professional economist or philosopher you will still learn a good deal from, not only about how to present complex ideas in a lucid manner, but about the ideas and debates themselves.
Sounds like just the sort of spirit that McPherson bought to POLI-EC 301 20 years ago. Perhaps we could use this for CGCL come January.