Bourgeois Dignity

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Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World is a 2010 book by economist and social theorist Deirdre McCloskey that is the second of a three-book series laying out the thesis that a change in the rhetoric surrounding the value of business, innovation, and entrepreneurship was the main factor responsible for the takeoff of economic growth in Northwest Europe in the late 18th century.[1][2] Bourgeois Dignity focuses on arguing that there was a fairly significant and unprecedented takeoff of economic growth, and that existing explanations for this takeoff are inadequate.[3][4] McCloskey provides a rough outline for why she thinks that the changes in rhetoric surrounding the dignity of business and markets were crucial, but leaves the elaborate case for later books in the series.[4]

Reception[edit]

Promotion[edit]

Around the time of the book release, National Review published an interview of McCloskey.[5] McCloskey has also given lengthy talks on the themes of the book, some of which can be found online.[6][7]

A June 2013 event at the Cato Institute featuring McCloskey, and titled How Markets and Innovation Became Ethical and Then Suspect, was about McCloskey's next planned book in the series. Other participants were Donald Boudreaux and Dalibor Rohac.[8]

Book reviews[edit]

Shortly prior to the release of the book, the themes of the book were discussed in the Cato Unbound October 2010 issue, with McCloskey as the lead essayist. The other participants were Gregory Clark, Matt Ridley, and Jonathan Feinstein.[9] Gregory Clark, who is famous for his book A Farewell to Alms, argued that economics must explain the modern world, because changes in rhetoric had happened many times in the past without any accompanying economic change.[10] Matt Ridley, famous as a popularizer of science as well as author of The Rational Optimist, made a similar point, and also argued that the ready availability of coal might have been a critical factor in allowing the Industrial Revolution to take off in the United Kingdom.[11] Feinstein argued that the revolution in human creativity had just begun, and needed to be taken further in the 21st century.[12] The participants made a number of additional posts responding to each other's points.[9]

Donald Boudreaux, economics professor at George Mason University and blogger at Cafe Hayek, reviewed the book very favorably for The Independent Review, the peer-reviewed journal of the Independent Institute.[13] Boudreaux's chief criticism was that the subtitle's criticism of economics might be referring to too narrow a conception of economics and that the broader tradition of economics (that would include McCloskey's own work) would be exempt from this criticism.

Henry Clark of Clemson University reviewed the book for the Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics.[14] Clark's review emphasized that McCloskey's case was not yet complete and that McCloskey would need to successfully address a number of issues (that he listed) in order to convince people of her thesis. Clark also noted the similarity between McCloskey's book and Steven Pinker's book The Better Angels of Our Nature on the decline of violence.[14]

Hugo Mercier of the University of Pennsylvania wrote a mixed review of the book for the International Cognition and Culture Institute, to which McCloskey wrote a lengthy response.[15]

Sandra Peart reviewed the book for The Freeman.[16] Peart praised McCloskey's arguments and said she eagerly awaits the next book of the series to understand McCloskey's argument better.

Diane Coyle wrote a mixed but generally favorable review of the book for the New Statesman.[17]

Arthur (Art) Diamond wrote a mixed but generally favorable review of the book.[18] Rich Lowry reviewed the book for National Review,[19] Andrew Morriss reviewed the book for Books and Culture,[20] and Jack High reviewed the book for the Review of Austrian Economics.[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ McCloskey, Deirdre (November 15, 2011). Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226556741. 
  2. ^ McCloskey, Deirdre. "On The Bourgeois Era, and Articles Relevant to It". Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  3. ^ McCloskey, Deirdre (October 4, 2010). "Bourgeois Dignity: A Revolution in Rhetoric". Cato Unbound. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b McCloskey, Deirdre (September 4, 2009). "The Argument of Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World". The Prudentia Journal. Archived from the original on February 20, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Needed: An Economics for Grownups Around 1700, a new way of speaking about commerce gave birth to the modern world". National Review. November 22, 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Deirdre McCloskey on "Bourgeois Dignity"". Mercatus Center. 9 February 2011. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Deirdre McCloskey Video". GMU Economics Society. February 10, 2011. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  8. ^ "How Markets and Innovation Became Ethical and Then Suspect". Cato Institute. June 20, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Bourgeois Dignity: The Virtue of the Modern World". Cato Unbound. October 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  10. ^ Clark, Gregory (October 6, 2010). "Why Economics MUST Explain the Modern World". Cato Unbound. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  11. ^ Ridley, Matt (October 8, 2010). "Don't Dismiss the Materialist Explanation". Cato Unbound. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  12. ^ Feinstein, Jonathan (October 11, 2010). "Unleashing Creative Development". Cato Unbound. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  13. ^ Boudreaux, Donald (Winter 2012). "Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World by Deirdre McCloskey". The Independent Review, The Independent Institute. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b Clark, Henry (Autumn 2011). "Review of Deirdre N. McCloskey's Bourgeois dignity: why economics can't explain the modern world. Chicago (IL): University of Chicago Press, 2010, 592 pp" (PDF). Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics. 4 (2): 83–88. 
  15. ^ Mercier, Hugo (December 12, 2010). "Review of Bourgeois Dignity: "What doesn't explain the industrial revolution," with a reply from McCloskey". Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  16. ^ Peart, Sandra (May 30, 2012). "BOOK REVIEW: Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World". The Freeman. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  17. ^ Coyle, Diane (January 30, 2011). "Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World". New Statesman. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  18. ^ Diamond, Arthur. "McCloskey's Great Fact" (PDF). Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  19. ^ Lowry, Rich (December 3, 2010). "Is 'Capitalism' Really Capitalism?". National Review. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  20. ^ Morriss, Andrew. "The Bourgeois Revaluation" (PDF). Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  21. ^ High, Jack (September 2013). "Deirdre McCloskey, Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World". The Review of Austrian Economics. 26 (3): 347–354. doi:10.1007/s11138-013-0205-0.