Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World (Google eBook)

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University of Chicago Press, Nov 15, 2010 - Philosophy - 592 pages
3 Reviews

The big economic story of our times is not the Great Recession. It is how China and India began to embrace neoliberal ideas of economics and attributed a sense of dignity and liberty to the bourgeoisie they had denied for so long. The result was an explosion in economic growth and proof that economic change depends less on foreign trade, investment, or material causes, and a whole lot more on ideas and what people believe.

Or so says Deirdre N. McCloskey in Bourgeois Dignity, a fiercely contrarian history that wages a similar argument about economics in the West. Here she turns her attention to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe to reconsider the birth of the industrial revolution and the rise of capitalism. According to McCloskey, our modern world was not the product of new markets and innovations, but rather the result of shifting opinions about them. During this time, talk of private property, commerce, and even the bourgeoisie itself radically altered, becoming far more approving and flying in the face of prejudices several millennia old. The wealth of nations, then, didn’t grow so dramatically because of economic factors: it grew because rhetoric about markets and free enterprise finally became enthusiastic and encouraging of their inherent dignity.

An utterly fascinating sequel to her critically acclaimed book The Bourgeois Virtues, Bourgeois Dignity is a feast of intellectual riches from one of our most spirited and ambitious historians—a work that will forever change our understanding of how the power of persuasion shapes our economic lives.

  

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Review: Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World

User Review  - Andrew Clough - Goodreads

I was hoping for a book on how people started to respect commerce and how it might have contributed to western economic development. Instead I mostly just got a very unpersuasive attack on competing ... Read full review

Review: Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World

User Review  - Dan Walker - Goodreads

I believe Deirdre McCloskey has unlocked the secret to why we are so wealthy today. Most people, and apparently all politicians, walk around believing there is something fundamentally wrong with the ... Read full review

Contents

1 The Modern World Was an Economic Tide But Did Not Have Economic Causes
1
2 Liberal Ideas Caused the Innovation
10
3 And a New Rhetoric Protected the Ideas
20
4 Many Other Plausible Stories Dont Work Very Well
31
5 The Correct Story Praises Capitalism
40
6 Modern Growth Was a Factor of at Least Si
48
7 Increasing Scope Not PotofPleasure Happiness Is What Mattered
60
8 And the Poor Won
70
26 The Effects on Europe of the Slave Trade and British Imperialism Were Smaller Still
229
27 And Other Exploitations External or Internal Were Equally Profitless to Ordinary Europeans
239
28 It Was Not the Sheer Quickening of Commerce
249
29 Nor the Struggle over the Spoils
256
30 Eugenic Materialism Doesnt Work
266
31 NeoDarwinism Doesnt Compute
277
32 And Inheritance Fades
286
33 Institutions Cannot Be Viewed Merely as IncentiveProviding Constraints
296

9 Creative Destruction Can Be Justifi ed Therefore on Utilitarian Grounds
78
10 British Economists Did Not Recognize the Tide
86
11 But the Figures Tell
93
12 Britains and Europes Lead Was an Episode
101
13 And Followers Could Leap over Stages
113
14 The Tide Didnt Happen because of Thrift
125
15 Capital Fundamentalism Is Wrong
133
16 A Rise of Greed or of a Protestant Ethic Didnt Happen
140
17 Endless Accumulation Does Not Typify the Modern World
146
18 Nor Was the Cause Original Accumulation or a Sin of Expropriation
153
19 Nor Was It Accumulation of Human Capital Until Lately
161
20 Transport or Other Domestic Reshuffl ings Didnt Cause It
168
21 Nor Geography nor Natural Resources
178
22 Not Even Coal
186
23 Foreign Trade Was Not the Cause Though World Prices Were a Context
197
24 And the Logic of TradeasanEngine Is Dubious
207
25 And Even the Dynamic Effects of Trade Were Small
217
34 And So the Better Institutions Such as Those Alleged for 1689 Dont Explain
310
35 And Anyway the Entire Absence of Property Is Not Relevant to the Place or Period
325
36 And the Chronology of Property and Incentives Has Been Mismeasured
336
37 And So the Routine of Max U Doesnt Work
346
38 The Cause Was Not Science
355
39 But Bourgeois Dignity and Liberty Entwined with the Enlightenment
366
40 It Was Not Allocation
377
41 It Was Words
385
42 Dignity and Liberty for Ordinary People in Short Were the Greatest Externalities
393
43 And the Model Can Be Formalized
406
44 Opposing the Bourgeoisie Hurts the Poor
420
45 And the Bourgeois Era Warrants Therefore Not Political or Environmental Pessimism
430
46 But an Amiable if Guarded Optimism
439
Notes
451
Works Cited
493
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About the author (2010)

Deirdre N. McCloskey is Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Among her many books are The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce; Crossing: A Memoir; The Secret Sins of Economics; and If You’re So Smart: The Narrative of Economic Expertise, all published by the University of Chicago Press.

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