Book Colloquium

Spring 2020

Each semester the Center for Public Choice and Market Process (CPM) sponsors the Economics Book Colloquium, in which students and faculty meet to discuss interesting contemporary writing in economics. In Spring 2020, there will be two colloquium groups: Intro and Advanced. The Intro Group will be reading Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World by Tim Harford. The Advanced Group will be reading The Essential Adam Smith by James Otteson and Humanomics: Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations for the Twenty-First Century by Vernon L. Smith and Bart J. Wilson. Registration is required.



Intro Group

Synopsis:

The Logic of Life presents an X-ray image of human life, stripping away the surface to show us a picture that is revealing, enthralling, and sometimes disturbing. The stories that emerge are not about data or equations but about people: the athlete who survived a shocking murder attempt, the computer geek who beat the hard-bitten poker pros, the economist who defied Henry Kissinger and faked an invasion of Berlin, the king who tried to buy off a revolution.

About the Author:

Tim Harford is the author of the bestseller The Undercover Economist and The Logic of Life and a member of the editorial board of the Financial Times, where he also writes the "Dear Economist" column. He is a regular contributor to Slate, Forbes, and NPR's Marketplace. He was the host of the BBC TV series Trust Me, I'm an Economist and now presents the BBC series More or Less. Harford has been an economist at the World Bank and an economics tutor at Oxford University. He lives in London with his wife and two daughters.

Discussion Leeder:

The Discussion Leader will be Dr. Chris Mothorpe, Research Fellow for the Center for Public Choice & Market Process and Assistant Professor of Economics here at the College of Charleston. 

 

Colloquium information: 

  • The Intro Group is open to any interested College of Charleston students; it is not limited to economics majors.
  • The Intro Group meets every two weeks, for 1 hour and 15 minutes, on Thursday at 3 p.m. in Beatty 301
  • Participation in the colloquium is voluntary, and no course credit is given for participation. We request that you only sign up to participate if you expect to be able to attend all of the sessions in the schedule below.
  • All students should be prepared to discuss all of the scheduled chapters for each meeting. The format will be an open discussion but focused on the topics raised in the assigned readings. Importantly, this colloquium is not intended to be a lecture. Ideally, the professors will do little talking.
  • Participants receive their copy of the book free from the CPM.
  • Food and drinks will be provided at all the meetings.
  • This semester the Colloquium will be limited to 15 student participants. 

Schedule

All meetings are 3:00pm - 4:15pm in Beatty 301.

January 30
Readings:

  • Chapter 1: Introducing the Logic of Life

February 13
Readings:

  • Chapter 2: Las Vegas
  • Chapter 3: Is Divorce Underrated?

February 27
Readings:

  • Chapter 4: Why Your Boss is Overpaid
  • Chapter 5: In the Neighborhood

March 12

NO MEETING THIS WEEK

March 26 
Readings:

  • Chapter 6: The Dangers of Rational Racism
  • Chapter 7: The World is Spiky

April 9
Readings:

  • Chapter 8: Rational Revolutions
  • Chapter 9: A Million Years of Logic
 Logic of Life by Tim Harford

Advanced Group

The Essential Adam Smith Synopsis:

Adam Smith (1723–1790) is widely hailed as the founding father of the discipline now known as economics, and he is widely credited as the founding father of what is now known as capitalism. Smith’s 1776 book, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, is often cited as the beginning of both economics and capitalism, and its influence since its publication ranks it among the most important works of the last millennium.

About the Author:

James R. Otteson is the Thomas W. Smith Presidential Chair in Business Ethics and Professor of Economics at Wake Forest University. He received his BA from Notre Dame and a PhD from the University of Chicago, and has taught at the University of Alabama, Yeshiva University, Georgetown University, and NYU. His published work focuses on Adam Smith, eighteenth-century moral and political thought, liberalism, and political economy.

Humanomics Synopsis:

While neoclassical analysis works well for studying impersonal exchange in markets, it fails to explain why people conduct themselves the way they do in their personal relationships with family, neighbors, and friends. In Humanomics, Nobel Prize-winning economist Vernon L. Smith and his long-time co-author Bart J. Wilson bring their study of economics full circle by returning to the founder of modern economics, Adam Smith. Sometime in the last 250 years, economists lost sight of the full range of human feeling, thinking, and knowing in everyday life. Smith and Wilson show how Adam Smith's model of sociality can re-humanize twenty-first century economics by undergirding it with sentiments, fellow feeling, and a sense of propriety - the stuff of which human relationships are built. Integrating insights from The Theory of Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations into contemporary empirical analysis, this book shapes economic betterment as a science of human beings.

About the Authors:

Dr. Vernon L. Smith was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002 for his groundbreaking work in experimental economics. Dr. Smith has joint appointments with the Argyros School of Business & Economics and the Fowler School of Law, and he is part of a team that will create and run the new Economic Science Institute at Chapman.

Bart Wilson is an experimental economist. He currently holds the Donald P. Kennedy Endowed Chair of Economics and Law in the Chapman University, Argyros School of Business and Economics. He is also the director of the Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy and teaches courses in humanomics.

Discussion Leeder:

The Discussion Leader will be Dr. Peter Calcagno, Director of the Center for Public Choice & Market Process and Professor of Economics here at the College of Charleston. 

 

Colloquium information: 

  • The Advanced Group is limited to only individuals who have participated in past Colloquiums.
  • The Advanced Group meets every two weeks, for 1 hour and 15 minutes, on Wednesday at 3:15 p.m. in Education Center 114
  • Participation in the colloquium is voluntary, and no course credit is given for participation. We request that you only sign up to participate if you expect to be able to attend all of the sessions in the schedule below.
  • All students should be prepared to discuss all of the scheduled chapters for each meeting. The format will be an open discussion but focused on the topics raised in the assigned readings. Importantly, this colloquium is not intended to be a lecture. Ideally, the professors will do little talking.
  • Participants receive their copy of the book free from the CPM.
  • Food and drinks will be provided at all the meetings.
  • This semester the Colloquium will be limited to 15 student participants. 

Schedule

All meetings are 3:15pm - 4:30pm in Education Center 114.

January 29
Readings - The Essential Adam Smith:

  • Chapter 5: The marketplace of morality

February 12
Readings - The Essential Adam Smith:

  • Chapter 6: The division of labor
  • Chapter 7: Smithian political economy
  • Chapter 8: The invisible hand
  • Chapter 9: Self-interest, equality, and respect
  • Chapter 10: The role of government
  • Chapter 11: Government interventions in the economy?
  • Chapter 12: Final assessment

March 25
Readings - Humanomics:

  • Chapter 1: Humanomics Spans the Two Worlds of Adam Smith
  • Chapter 2: Words and Meaning in Adam Smith's World
  • Chapter 3: Conduct in the Social Universe

March 11

NO MEETING THIS WEEK

March 26 
Readings - Humanomics:

  • Chapter 4: Frank Knight Preemptively Settles the Horse Race
  • Chapter 5: Axioms and Principles for Understand Human Conduct
  • Chapter 6: Propositions Predicting Context-Specific Action
  • Chapter 7: Propriety and Sympathy in Rule-Governed Order

April 9
Readings - Humanomics:

  • Chapter 8: Trust Game Discoveries
  • Chapter 9: The Ultimatum Game as Involuntary Extortion
  • Chapter 10: Designing, Predicting, and Evaluating New Trust Games

April 22
Readings - Humanomics:

  • Chapter 11: Reconsidering the Formal Structure of Traditional Game Theory
  • Chapter 12: Narratives in and about Experimental Economics
  • Chapter 13: Adam Smith's Program for the Study of Human Socioeconomic Betterment

The Essential Adam Smith

Humanomics: Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations for the Twenty-First Century

Registration 

Fill out the form below.

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