Abstract: In the US a dismal truth exists about the citizenry’s lack of understanding of economic fundamentals whether it is amongst our political leaders or our university graduates. This then leads one to ask, “What can be done to help people become literate in economics?” Perhaps the answer lies in the area of systems thinking, which is a way of thinking about the interconnections between the parts of a system and their synthesis into a unified view of the whole system. More specifically, this means incorporating systems thinking and design in primary, secondary, and tertiary curricula. In this paper, the author gives a cursory review of General Systems Theory (GST) as developed by Ludwig von Bertalanffy and extended by others in the systems thinking field to illustrate the confluences of thought among Ludwig von Mises and systems scientists. From this the author argues the need for systems thinking and design in curricula and makes reference to non-prescriptive teaching and learning applications for the fostering of economic literacy.
Abstract: In today’s society, a peculiar understanding of distributive justice has developed which holds that “social justice must be distributed by the coercive force of government.” However, this is a perversion of the ideal of distributive justice. The perspective of distributive justice which should be considered is one with its roots in the school of thought referred to as self-actualization ethics or eudaimonism, which holds that each person is unique and each should discover whom he or she is—to actualize his or her true potential and to live the “good life” within the congeniality and complementarity of personal excellences of his or her fellow members of community. When a eudaimonistic perspective is considered, a definition of distributive of justice could be “the allocation of goods and utilities via the voluntary ubiquitous human interaction of self-actualizing individuals who not only recognize the human dignity of the self and other and the rights which flow from and guarantee it, but also actively will goods and utilities toward the self and other so as to manifest human dignity.” Therefore, with a eudaimonistic understanding of distributive justice, one can argue that the free market is the ubiquitous interactions of self-actualizing individuals who are giving and receiving goods and utilities for one and another’s own “happiness,” i.e. the free market is the socio-economic mechanism by which distributive justice operates. In this paper I first will overview the philosophical foundations of distributive justice. Next, I will propose a eudaimonistic definition of distributive justice. Finally, I will highlight examples of distributive justice operating in a free market economy.
Abstract: Bryan Caplan’s 2007 book, The Myth of the Rational Voter, created some controversy by stating that voters make irrational political decisions. While it has commonly been accepted in public choice discourse that citizens are ignorant of the complexities of politics, Caplan takes the argument one step further and states that citizens hold extreme anti-economic biases that invoke certain irrational demands of politicians. Caplan also asserts that democratic failure is thoroughly a result of the these irrational biases, and that citizens deserve the primary blame for problems within the American political system. This critique analyzes several inconsistencies in Caplan’s assessment of the political condition, which include his doctrine of rational irrationality, his skepticism towards democratic failure, and his apologetic attitude towards politicians. Under closer scrutiny, one can see that Caplan’s main thesis, the concept of rational irrationality, is largely unfounded. Furthermore, the theoretical model he constructs is largely incomplete, since he focuses primarily on the failures of citizens, but does not take into account numerous other factors within the political process that can lead to democratic failure.
PAPER HERE: 28. “Critique of Caplan’s The Myth of the Rational Voter”