Archive | March, 2018

Kant, Pettinger and Kierkegaard

I was amused to see in Oxford Blackwells my new economics book in between the great philosophers Immanual Kant and Søren Kierkegaard. I’ve always fancied myself as something of a philosopher.

But when I studied PPE at Oxford University, I was hopeless at philosophy. I couldn’t read a page of Kant for love nor money. One of the few rebelllious things I’ve done in life is when I worked out you could more or less fail philosophy, but still pass on to the second year of PPE where you could concentrate on just economics and politics. So I stopped going to philosophy lectures – never read a philosophy book and scrapped a third on the philosophy 1st year exams. Then I dropped the philosophy to a great sense of joy and relief.

In my second and third year, I did start going to lectures in economics and politics!

When I joined Sri Chinmoy’s path, a disciple told me that in his youth Sri Chinmoy read all the western philosophers. But, now he prays to God to be able to forget all this dry philosophy! I was so happy to hear that – because I don’t feel any joy in western philosophy. But, I hope there is a little joy in my philosophical economics book!

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The clever economist gets caught out

With my new book – What would Keynes do? – The brief was to write essays on how famous economists would respond to everyday questions. So for example, with the question – Is it OK to be selfish? I examined how the likes of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Arthur Pigou and Alfred Marshall might answer this question – using their economic teachings.

It was a good experience to research and share the views of different economists, but now I’ve finished writing the book, I’m writing my own perspective on my economics blog.

#2. Should I park illegally?

The essence of this question is that – an economist may calculate it is worth parking illegally and risking a fine because the probability of getting fine is less than the utility of just parking. It is called rational choice theory – we maximise our individual utility by careful evaluation of the different benefits and costs.

It is a philosophy I practise to a certain degree. But, it reminded me of a story where the clever economist got caught out. 

I was in London, and my friend wanted to buy something from a shop. There were no parking spots anywhere, so I parked on a single yellow line, while my friend ran into the shop. I waited by the car, ready to drive off – if a parking warden came. No one did come, my friend got his food, and we drove off. I thought I was clever to save a lot of hassle and park for free.

However, one week later, I got a very nice parking fine (something like £80) from Wandsworth Council saying I spent 10 minutes on a single yellow line. Not only that – they had a picture of me standing nonchalantly by my car, waiting for a traffic warden to appear.

So in that case, the clever economist got caught out by CCTV!

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What would Keynes do?

I have a new economics book published this week. – What Would Keynes do?

what-would-keynes-do

It was good fun to write. In addition to my existing knowledge, I had to do quite a bit of research into the views of different economists. I learnt a lot about the fringes of economics in writing the book.

It gave me a new respect for some economists I didn’t know too well, but with regard to other economists – I don’t want to read them anymore!

Related

What would Keynes do? at Economics Help

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