Tocqueville Program series to focus on capitalism, its critics and defenders

  • Sept. 19, 2013


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Renowned economist, historian and public intellectual Deirdre McCloskey will kick off a fall 2013 colloquium series sponsored by the Tocqueville Program at Indiana University Bloomington and focusing on capitalism and its critics and defenders on Friday, Sept. 20.

McCloskey, distinguished professor of economics, history, English and communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago and professor of economic history at Gothenburg University in Sweden, will speak from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Tocqueville Room of the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, 513 N. Park Ave.

Her lecture, part of the IU Bloomington Horizons of Knowledge series, is titled "The Great Enrichment, 1800-2013: Ethics, Rhetoric and Market-Tested Innovation." It will incorporate themes from her books "The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce" and "Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World."

McCloskey argues that "capitalism" is a misnomer for economic and societal changes that began in northwestern Europe in the 18th century and that arose from the coming of liberty and dignity for ordinary people. Not accumulation but ingenuity, she says, caused the Great Enrichment that continues today and can be expected over the next century to improve the lives of all poor people on the planet.

She is also the author of "The Cult of Statistical Significance" (with Stephen Ziliak), "Measurement and Meaning in Economics" and other books, as well as around 400 scholarly articles on topics including technical economics, statistics, the ethic of bourgeois virtues and transgender advocacy.

Additional lectures in the series will include:

  • "Re-Reading J.S. Mill," by Alan Ryan, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, in Woodburn Hall 218. Ryan, one of the world’s leading political theorists, is former warden of New College, London, and is professor of politics and faculty fellow at Princeton University. He is the author of "The Making of Modern Liberalism," "On Politics" and other books.
  • "Capitalism and Inequality: What the Right and Left Get Wrong," by Jerry Z. Muller, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, in Woodburn Hall 218. Muller, a professor of history at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., is the author of "Adam Smith in His Time and Ours," "The Mind and the Market" and other books.

The Tocqueville Program at IU Bloomington, directed by Aurelian Craiutu, professor of political science in the College of Arts and Sciences, was established in 2009 to promote the interdisciplinary exploration of themes from the writings of the 19th century political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville.

Support for the colloquium series comes from the College Arts and Humanities Institute and the Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis.

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