Russ Roberts

Klein on The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Episode 5--A Discussion of Parts III (cont.), IV, and V

EconTalk Episode with Daniel Klein
Hosted by Russ Roberts
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This is the fifth podcast in the EconTalk Book Club discussion of The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith. In this episode, Dan Klein of George Mason University and EconTalk host Russ Roberts finish discussing Part III and discuss Parts IV and V of the book.

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0:36Intro. Last time began Part III. Start today with Part III, Chapter IV.
1:43In Part III, Chapter IV, pp. 156, self-deceit: your immediate passions mislead your internal spectator, man within the breast, who may think well of what you are up to but has been deceived. In society we develop a set of general rules of propriety, leading to universalist view of the impartial spectator. Sense of duty, which is title of Part III. Flaw: we can fool ourselves. Pragmatism. Ideal man within the breast. "This self-deceit...". Faith and belief in desire to be happy with how people view us. Experience can temper urge to self-deceit.
5:32Part III, Chapter V, general rules justly regarded as the law of the deity. Religion inculcates good conduct; affirms that the general rules are the law of the deity. Sense of duty are all that most humans can use. "The coarse clay of humanity...". People are doing what is proper, e.g., express gratitude, it is out of a regard for a sense of duty more than an impulse of gratitude at the moment. Common theme. Motivated by impression we make on others, and by what is proper. Layering. Tree in the forest, this sense of duty being the true glue of society. Rules this duty are motivating are like laws; anti legal positivist approach, count as laws duties enforced in this other way. Those whom we live with. Woody Allen's wrong in "Crimes and Misdemeanors." People you live with will love you less if you don't properly maintain a sense of duty. Monitoring device, monitoring without the power of the state. Goodness of state depends on the fact that individuals are good monitors of themselves. Smith's worldview; how this book relates to The Wealth of Nations. Quote: "The happiness of mankind, as well as of all other rational creatures,..."---not the dolphins--"seems to have been...". Doesn't next use the phrase invisible hand, but similar language: "But by acting according to the dictates of our moral faculties, we necessarily pursue the most effectual means for promoting the happiness of mankind, and may therefore be said, in some sense, to co-operate with the Deity, and to advance as far as in our power the plan of Providence." Ties into economics: "There are besides many other reasons, and many other natural principles, which all tend to confirm and inculcate the same salutary doctrine. If we consider the general rules by which external prosperity and adversity are commonly distributed in this life,...". Extraordinary claim that the world has these built-in incentives that align our behavior in classic economic senses incentives that create virtue and prosperity. Industry, prudence, and circumspection lead to business success over a lifetime; honesty and moral behavior, return is honor and respect from one's fellows. We are induced to do the right thing either by financial return or being loved; parallel. Natural incentives. Otteson book: Smith is developing an invisible hand of morals parallel to invisible hand theory in the market. Hayek, or classroom of how prices adjust in the classroom. Moral sphere, get more praise and honor, as Gary Becker would say, a shadow price; but no medium of exchange. Incentive to be prudent.
19:13Smith's basic explanation is that God created it this way. Always finding a silver lining. Alternative point of view is that it is evolutionarily developed. Debate in Smith literature about how serious Smith was about providential source. Hayek, in beginning of The Fatal Conceit, how these incentives could emerge evolutionarily. Some in Smith in Part VI. Correspondence between impartial spectator and the being whose hand is invisible. Doesn't argue that God is watching us. Monks. Quote: "The natural course of things...". Law of unintended consequences. Not confined to what happens in the free market. Smith's invisible hand is broader than Hayekian invisible hand.
24:21Part III, Chapter VI. Whether proper to confine our motives to this sense of duty rather than allowing genuine spontaneous sentiment to override the sense of duty. Depends. Social passions, friendship, kindness, nice to supplement sense of duty. Unsocial, indignation, hatred, should be restrained by sense of duty. Wrath. Judging people who are wrathful. Aristotelian view, sympathy to person you are wrathful toward. Depends on looseness and inaccuracy of the general rules. Gray areas, fall back on sentiments. Justice, commutative justice, is exact; p. 175 (discussed in first episode). In writing, those rules are grammar. Other people's stuff is clearly defined. Different from loose, vague, and indeterminate rules, what is sublime and elegant in writing. Ethics, prudence, hard to know what's prudent. Beneficence, gratitude are loose, vague, and indeterminate. The looser, the more you have to go on other sentiments. Slippery slope, self-deception: why justice has to be black and white. "Though the end of the rules of justice be to hinder us...". Chicane, chicanery. Thief, adulterer examples. Grammatical critique of injustice is partly not clear. Almost the only cause of gross perversions of proper sense of duty are false notions of religion. Relates to something coming up: underlying theory that big perversions of proper sentiment don't persist. Political religion, political culture. Mechanisms that tend to promote good culture tend to get the upper hand. Smith optimistic about the course of culture; but setting today is different. Critics of free marketers: commerce corrupts; but they ignore corrupting effects of government. Future podcast topic. Previous Klein podcast on romance of collective actions and groupthink. Execs at AIG, getting bailed out for bad decisions--corrupts incentives to act with prudence, distorts incentives to help our fellow, encourages use of government, a 0-sum game, instead of producing wealth. Optimism: most people know that's a bad game, don't counsel to rely on government. Don Boudreaux, wizard-like faith. Most of the time we kind of ignore it. Does big government lead us to not pay our loans? Drug prohibition, immigration, occupational licensing--coercive and widespread, but people lead their private lives and don't worry about it. Government runs education K-12. Opinion about policy can be very off base: Smith didn't live in that world, where people at the bottom were invited to revere government. Role for the challenger, Mises, Thomas Szasz, Milton Friedman; missing from this book. Smith big on order. Optimistic view of culture; might be disappointed with how it's turned out.
45:34Part IV. Forest: Effect of utility on the sentiment of approbation. Utility: Social usefulness, outcomes, real things happening that are good. Taking issue with idea that moral approval is based directly on utility. Organon--worldview--is that moral judgment is enshrouded in spectatorial sympathy, based on a notion of propriety. Propriety tends to conform to utility, by virtue of God and incentives that are in place. Journey makes a stopover at propriety. Three illustrations: when the ambitious person pursues wealth; beauty and propriety in all the means of happiness. Invisible hand passage; at end of life finds he hasn't derived all that much happiness. Operose machines; Ferrari. Another illustration: prudence and self-command. Eat right, refrain from chocolate cake out of self-propriety, habit of prudence. Finally, discussions of public policy and economy inspires sense of beauty. Person inspired with notion for public spirit. When the government runs schools, K-12, utility doesn't conform to propriety. Feedback loops. Utility, pragmatic social outcomes. Not raw utility that generates a moral judgment. Great system in public policy: people develop notion of exalted propriety. Each notion of propriety corresponds to a referent community, say, community_i. Move up to a more exalted society, community_j; what was praiseworthy for community_i is maybe only average for community_j. Wise and virtuous man, in Part VI; evolutionary nature within individual over time. Refine self.
55:04First part of Part IV, Chapter I, indictment of empty materialism. Smith mocks the emptiness of the gadgets of his day--fancy expensive watch, iPhone of his day. Men like toys; 1759, tweezer-cases, pockets stuffed with these things. "Power and riches appear then to be, what they are, enormous and operose machines contrived to produce a few trifling conveniencies to the body...". Entangled, Charlie Chaplin "Modern Times" image. Not just inconvenient, but it will hurt you. Fool's gold. Kindle, camera, recording toys. Invisible hand argument: "The pleasures of wealth and greatness...". We think it's going to make us happy, but illusion; sort of beauty of it, and we are seduced by it; "And it is well that nature imposes upon us in this manner. It is this deception which rouses and keeps in continual motion the industry of mankind...". Ambition, belly, eye bigger than stomach; "They consumer little more than the poor... they divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements. They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society, and afford means to the multiplication of the species."... "In ease of body and peace of mind, all the different ranks of life are nearly upon a level, and the beggar, who suns himself by the side of the highway, possesses that security which kings are fighting for." Different from modern idea of profit motive: competition, serving the customer. Beautiful praise of entrepreneurship. That ambition creates jobs and well-being for others; the tiny minority is sharing that produce. Only mention in this book of the invisible hand; only three in all his books. One in Wealth of Nations, one in "History of Astronomy" essay.
1:04:16Number of things about the passage not so great. Exaggerates point. Talk to the beggars about that. Comparative claim about supposed fact and counterfactual: Providence divided earth amongst a few lordly masters. Counterfactual: "...had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants,"--is that back at the beginning? Imagine so. Land major source of wealth; redistribution of land ownership, initial conditions unfair. Apologist. France, Russia. Money doesn't create happiness. Necessaries of life, sunning yourself--terribly muddled. King, classical idea, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. In coming pages talks about assassinations of kings, not so happy. Not convincing. Meaningful progressive life, if beggar doesn't get to do much development to community_j. Money doesn't buy happiness can be overdone. Modern eyes, Google creators, have nicer car, Tesla, nicer vacations than all their employees, but their employees have fascinating life.
1:10:40Challenge: Chapter I of Part IV praises some of public works side of government: "The same principle, the same love of system, the same regard to the beauty of order, of art and contrivance, frequently serves to recommend those institutions which tend to promote the public welfare...". Roads, seems to be positive. Talking about public policy generally, not that it should be government works. Fourth source of moral approval in first podcast. Classical liberalism, semi-anthropomorphic view of the whole. Organism that views the whole with whom we then sympathize. Libertarian circles veered away from this. Hayek, less that way earlier; more so in Mises; Rothbard. Smith: we should think in these social organism terms, imagining spectators with a social view; knowledge and benevolence, but don't have power or are constraining themselves; or have moral power through invisible hand that affects us in our breast. This being doesn't sound anything like government. Austrian movement, veered too much away; Kirzner, James Buchanan tension, using anthropomorphic view but bridling it. Discussion of grand affairs does inspire generosity. Leamer podcast: don't want to confuse our model with reality.
1:17:24Part V. Influence of custom and fashion, could be major topic but isn't. Clothing: custom is what everyone wears; fashion is the elite. Style is different schemes that may come in or out of fashion. Concerned whether influence of fashion can corrupt the moral sentiment. Moral sentiments more robust, not so sensitive to custom or fashion. Variation by profession, age, states of society. We can always step back and judge the propriety that the custom is recommending. Condemnation of slavery: never just, particular usages that are gross violations; custom has gone wrong. Evolutionary argument: if they did pervert the moral fabric, that society wouldn't prosper. Condemns infanticide; sometimes accepted as a custom; basically unjust. Example of where Smith goes out on a limb. Infanticide has not been in fashion for a while. Condemnation of slavery strong: "There is not a negro from the coast of Africa who does not, in this respect, possess a degree of magnanimity which the soul of his sordid master is too often scarce capable of conceiving...". Even savages feel magnanimity, more than the master. Essays by David Levy on race in Smith and Mill. Dog that doesn't bark, noted well into Part VI, no mention that moral sentiments are different amongst the classes. Savages--primitive peoples, lack of civilization--but otherwise remarkable egalitarian for his time. Levy-Peart essay: phrase "dismal science" came from Carlyle. Smith has no racial, almost no class stereotypes; certainly no class stereotypes. Not judgmental.

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COMMENTS (13 to date)
Daniel Klein writes:

I want to elaborate a bit on my criticism of TMS. Smith writes (160.9) that the general rules of propriety “are formed from the experience we have had of the effects which actions of all different kinds naturally produce on us” (italics added).

Consider actions of public policy (as well as of Wal*Mart, “Big Pharma,” “sweatshops,” etc).

The effects of such actions have to be interpreted, and those interpretations have to be propagated in the culture.

Smith generally expresses optimism about such interpretations and propagation. He generally affirms that the invisible-hand mechanisms will have the upper-hand in culture.

Smith’s affirmation can be put this way: He sees a chain linking the following three:

Approbation – Propriety – Utility

The first two, Approbation and Propriety, are necessarily connected: Approbation is enshrouded in spectatorial sympathy, which is based on common notions of propriety or beauty. Again, this linkage is simply Smith’s organon. I am happy to go along with Smith here.

But what of the second linkage? Smith asserts a natural linkage between Propriety and Utility. But what makes this connection? What are the mechanisms connecting Propriety and Utility? Can this connection break down?

When we think hard about the mechanisms of forming and propagating interpretations of effects, of propagating notions of Propriety, Smith’s optimistic conclusions hardly seem ensured.

Actions that are at variance with people’s notions of propriety are regarded by them as offensive. Criticism (and implied disapprobation) directed at actions or characters that onlookers feel deserve approprobation is offensive to the onlookers.

Today, suggesting that the minimum wage law is the initiation of coercion is offensive. Suggesting that the ban-till-permitted system of pharmaceutical control is a bane to humanity and should be abolished is offensive. Suggesting that occupational licensing is a bane to humanity and should be abolished is offensive. Suggesting that the welfare state is a bane to humanity and should be abolished is offensive. Suggesting that we live in world of wholesale coercions perpetrated by government is offensive.

We need to think about the mechanisms by which interpretations are formed, validated, and propagated. And then we need to think about America 2009: K-12, the universities, the bullsh-t you see on TV (from Bill Maher to Bill O’Reilly), the huge government sector, the social-democratic culture generally. Do we believe that we have a setting in which invisible-hand mechanism in culture have the upper-hand?

I’ve always felt that the cultural optimism of TMS does not fit our age. I’ve always felt that he gives short shrift to the maverick who challenges received sensibilities, received notions of propriety. I’ve always felt that TMS treats “pride,” “presumption,” “arrogance,” “insolence,” and the like in a way that is blind to the trade-offs one may face when the cultural institutions need challenging at their roots. There is little in TMS that appreciates the Thomas Paine, William Lloyd Garrison, Lysander Spooner, Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, Thomas Szasz, Robert Higgs, and so on. (Smith had a huge admiration in this for Voltaire, but it is not expressed in TMS; indeed, at 215.10 Smith knocks the challenging style of Voltaire, calling it “the most improper and even insolent contempt of all the ordinary decorums of live and conversation”.)

I grant that Smith’s counsel is not simply knuckle under. But the counsel is too one-sided: He encourages bargaining and discourages challenging.

James Otteson’s book Adam Smith’s Marketplace of Life (Cambridge UP, 2002) does a great job with Smith’s doctrine of an invisible-hand in culture. I think Jim gets Smith right. But I felt a need to criticize Smith for neglecting the possible usurpation of cultural mechanisms.

Smith says that “False notions of religion are almost the only causes which can occasion any very gross perversion of our natural sentiments” (176.12).

Well, what of political religions that have the coercive power of the state behind them? What happens when the state dominates the political culture and uses the cultural institutions to propagate its interpretations? What happens when children are indoctrinated with false notions of political propriety?

In matters of political opinion, political beauty, political propriety, in all such matters classical liberal sensibilities have in the United States been largely marginalized for well over 100 years. Around 1900 is when the subversion of the liberal lexicon really began to set in. If the invisible-hand mechanisms in culture have the upper-hand, how long will it take for that upper-hand to start revealing itself? After the postwar liberal renaissance culminating perhaps in the 1980s, we again seem to be losing what little cultural ground we have had.

The questions I ask about TMS: What setting is Smith assuming when he affirms an invisible hand in culture? Does that setting match that of America 2009?

Adam writes:

Professor Klein,

I feel your criticism is misplaced. I don't think TMS has much to say about politics. It deals with the general rules of conduct between equals--that is to say, the general rules of behavior that apply to everyday life. Beliefs about laws and regulations don't enter into it because those things are outside the scope of nearly everyone's experience in any substantive way. Almost no one has the power to change them, and even fewer people have had a hand in them and then seen their effects directly.

And I also think you've got a rosier view of the culture of Smith's day than is realistic. Remember that the Wealth of Nations directed its criticisms of what Smith called merchantilism, which at that time was the reigning set of policy prescriptions with regard to trade. He saw England pay for an enormously costly war against the French in America, followed by yet another costly war when the colonies rebelled. I think Smith had few illusions about political ideology and the destructive consequences of bad policies that none the less had some level of support.

The utility Smith speaks of is far more interpersonal than institutional. Not murdering is a general rule that we see the usefulness of if everyone can adhere to it; not stealing or sleeping with someone else's wife, etc. Smith isn't talking about regulation here, he is talking about social norms about how we behave.

I also think you sell him short on his appreciation of challengers. His friend and mentor, David Hume, was after all an infamous challenger, and Smith himself was a fighter; against merchantilism and against things he believed to be misperceptions.

So I think your criticism is stretching TMS beyond the domain it was intended for. Nowhere in TMS or the Wealth of Nations does Smith argue that people will inevitably end up advocating good policies. Indeed if he believed it, why write the Wealth of Nations at all? Why criticize the merchantilists so extensively, if you believe that people will be led to believe in better policies in the end regardless? I think he saw the merchantilists as not just mistaken but also dangerous, in precisely the sense that you have argued the illiberal tendencies in our culture are dangerous.

But I'm no Smith scholar; I can only give you my own impression from what I read.

arc of a diver writes:

I wonder if it might be better to keep these under 70 or 75 minutes since I think more would listen. Just add one more show to the series assuming the section break works.

Daniel Klein writes:

Just a line to say that I'm tied up with travel and distractions the next 7 days, so I won't be able to remain very active here.

Adam, you are right about Smith sometimes challenging (much more so in WN than in TMS). As for TMS as a political work, I think that, partly, it is there tacitly, partly explicitly, and partly just a fair extrapolation for one to make. On Smith as optimistic, yes, I came across as simplistic in the podcast on this. But still he seems to promote a system predicated on the invisible-hand mechanisms in culture having an upper-hand, in no small part by virtue of the select who persuasively explain to people what really is beautiful at the 4th source. I feel that he suggests that his own election to the cultural thrown was but an instantiation of the tendency for the best in philosophy to come to be generally accepted as such, and hence to have much sway in the culture and in politics.

John Strong writes:

Daniel Klein writes: I’ve always felt that the cultural optimism of TMS does not fit our age ... gives short shrift to the maverick who challenges received sensibilities, received notions of propriety ... There is little in TMS that appreciates the Thomas Paine, William Lloyd Garrison, Lysander Spooner, Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, Thomas Szasz, Robert Higgs, and so on. (Smith had a huge admiration in this for Voltaire, but it is not expressed in TMS; indeed, at 215.10 Smith knocks the challenging style of Voltaire, calling it “the most improper and even insolent contempt of all the ordinary decorums of live and conversation”.)

I am pleased that you saw fit to include at least one religious man in your list of mavericks: William Lloyd Garrison. :-)

Let me suggest another candidate for the list: the prophet Jeremiah. He told the king of Judah that an imminent Babylonian attack was God’s retribution, and so the king had him thrown in a well. In a stoneage culture with no written law, where morality is heavily influenced (in some cases defined) by public opinion alone, where there is no Impartial Spectator other than the opinion of the neighborhood gossip, in short, in a culture with a conformist shame-based ethos, a king might throw his critics in wells, but the culture would never dignify the critic’s judgment with the name “prophecy” or immortalize it in a holy book.

Individualism, iconoclasm, and even science have deep cultural roots. They are not the handiwork of a few 18th century professors. Have you heard of the work of ethnologist René Girard? Girard argued that the rise of science occurred in JudaeoChristian culture because both Judaism and Christianity are based on religious narratives that view mob violence from the perspective of the victim (see Scapegoat). Without a narrative that disciplines both “group think” and the reflexive search for causes, science is not possible. Science did not arise because men discovered causality; it arose because men learned to discipline the kneejerk reflex that makes them find causes where they shouldn’t – like witches.

The reaction to the current influenza problem here in Mexico has shocking echos of the myth-making mechanisms that René Girard describes. Just like those who impugned Oedipus after the plague at Thebes, we are in search of some villain. Barack Obama, they say, smuggled the influenza virus into Mexico while he was visiting the country. Is this any different from Michael Moore saying that George Bush brought down the twin towers to further some sinister venal objective? Is it any different from the John Birchers accusing Eisenhower of being a communist? Is it any different from Lou Dobbs accusing immigrants of spreading leprosy? Or Turkish newspapers accusing the Israeli Mossad of spreading a plague among rural Turks, or for that matter, is it any different from the medieval French mobs that murdered and disposessed thousands of Jews in 1391 for having “poisoned” rivers and wells with the black plague?

If you are a naturalist, I’d say you are right to be pessimistic about human progress. But Smith was steeped in European Christian tradition. He breathed its fumes, even if he did not have many explicit theological commitments. The entire notion that we can be “self-deceived” is something you rarely hear from a modern, unless he is (really) talking about someone else. The only way to cultivate truth, seems to me, is by a well-established sense of propriety that says: I can sin and be wrong, not just in my mind, but in my heart, and confessing error and sin is a good thing. As the prophet Jeremiah warns us: “the heart is deceptive above all things.”

By the way, I very strongly agree with you that politics is the religion of modernity. It makes godlike claims but makes no attempt to instill humility or self-knowledge in anyone.


hacs writes:

Regarding to a broadly accepted notion of propriety (differences among German tribes and the Hellenic culture) and the transition from religion to politics I was very influenced by The Ancient City, Fustel de Coulanges.

Niels writes:

Russ, Dan,

in case you wonder why there might be less listeners to this series: I, for example, am waiting for the right moment in which I'll have the time to read the TMS and then enjoy your conversations as accompanying tools. So please continue, they'll be helpful one day...

John Strong writes:

Re: Evolutionary Function of Affection

Dan remarked that there are a “couple” of places in the TMS where Smith makes an evolutionary argument. I’d say more than a couple!!

One example would be his treatment of affection, which he calls habitual sympathy. The “wisdom of nature” he says has arranged for a habitual sympathy among people who live at close quarters, because “their good agreement” is “necessary for [their] tranquility and happiness” (VI.II.6-7). As the relationship becomes more and more distant, and less and less critical to family harmony, the habitual sympathy correspondingly diminishes. In the terminology of modern evolutionary psychology, the “wisdom of nature” that governs this process would probably be called kin selection.

The potency for habitual sympathy in the human psyche allows us to flexibily develop sympathy where it proves most useful. I am reminded of C. S. Lewis’ brilliant analysis of Affection in The Four Loves. It is a very adaptable and almost gratuitous emotion. Lewis said something like, “A dog will feel affection for a familiar gardner who has never done him a single kindness, and will try to bite the hand of a stranger who is trying to feed him.”

This is a tiny sample of the psychological richness of the TMS. I believe it was Deirdre McCloskey who pointed out in his podcast that we would have done well to embrace Smith as the father of the discipline of Psychology rather than Freud. I agree.

Pietro Poggi-Corradini writes:

I think I'll take Smith's and Russ's "optimistic" side. Isn't Smith the greatest maverick and challenger in the end? To be able to be so fresh and to survive so well to modern times, it means that it must have been challenging to the extreme to its contemporaries, or at least not well understood (I also wonder how risky it might have been to take some of the positions he took). What appeals to our modern vantage point is Smith's ability to take on the role of impartial arbiter, to analyze and evaluate a situation or a phenomenon from several points-of-view in a symmetric fashion, independently of local cultural stereotypes. This forces him to value the "unseen" on an equal footing with the "seen", and we can only guess how shocking it would have been for his contemporaries to treat these two aspects with such disrespect of the established customs. Yes, Adam Smith is famous for the "invisible hand" metaphor, but his purpose throughout is to make it as "visible" as possible, to describe it, analyze it, explain its functioning.

What happened in the two and a half centuries that have passed since Smith, is that our culture has indeed evolved so that more and more people became more and more aware of the "unseen", of the "invisible". In fact, the more subtle we become in identifying and study unintended concatenations of effects, the more reasons we could have for despair. But I'd rather take Smith's example and pursue the analysis "impartially".

Pietro Poggi-Corradini writes:

Also with regard to the discussion about the semi-anthropomorphic view of the whole, I think Hayek's distinction between "cosmos" and "taxis" might be relevant.

Joshua Meachem writes:

Thanks guys for your examination of TMS. I have learned alot from this discussion. A very important work.

If any one is interested in philosiphy podcasts, the BBC4, In Our Times has an extremely usefull archive, Much like Econtalk.

I loved the comparison between grammer and moralality in this podcast. no pun intended, as I am aware my grammer is not up to par. However, I am working on this!

The fisrt Chapter had a great quote. Business can civilize a population, I am paraphrasing. I had an agreement about this with afreind. We both agreed that ultimatly business, although burtal at times, is better than a bomb.

Again, great work guys, Thank you.

Cheers,


Brad Calder writes:

Dr. Roberts,

Hate to go off topic, but could you please do a pod cast with Pete Leeson on Pirates. We would all enjoy it.

Cheers,
-Brad

John Strong writes:

If the Book Club becomes a regular feature of EconTalk, then I vote for studying Wealth of Nations next.

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