May 13, 2006

Economics as a guide to human behaviour

Interesting article - Pricing Caffeine by Amit Varma, who also blogged about it here. It is a review of The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford and I really loved the first sentence of Amit's blogpost: 
Art aims to reveal the human condition, but there is no better way to understand human behaviour than through the tools of economics.
Snared right away by a great title and even better starting line - always a good idea be it a book or a blogpost - I was intrigued and so I did a little search and found some other related links to discussions or books on the subject.
The Economic Approach to Human Behavior by Gary S. Becker

The New Economics of Human Behaviour edited by Mariano Tommasi (UCLA) & Kathryn Ierulli (Univ. of Illinois, Chicago). Foreword by Gary Becker

Of human behaviour and economics by B. Venkatesh, in The Hindu. Article in The Hindu:
Also read Richard Epstein's (author of Skepticism and Freedom and Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School & Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a significant contributor to the theory of limited state powers) argument that
..embracing aspects of libertarian theory and laissez faire economics—continues to offer “the best guide to human behavior” and social organization. “Classical liberalism requires us to maintain the distinction between liberty and coercion: to advance the former while constraining the latter', says Epstein. Read the entire article...some real good thoughts and even good quotable quotes like - 'Skepticism is an essential component in maintaining freedom.'
In finding out more about Richard Epstein, I found this..
ON NSA SPYING: A LETTER TO CONGRESS by Beth Nolan, Curtis Bradley, David Cole, Geoffrey Stone, Harold Hongju Koh, Kathleen M. Sullivan, Laurence H. Tribe, Martin Lederman, Philip B. Heymann, Richard Epstein, Ronald Dworkin, Walter Dellinger, William S. Sessions, William Van Alstyne.
I also ran into an article by Epstein remembering Harvard University's John Rawls, widely regarded as the most influential political philosopher of the 20th century and author of A Theory of Justice (1971). The article references Robert Nozick, also of the Harvard philosophy department, and author of Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974), which laid out a lot of the libertarian principles.

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