The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce (The Bourgeois Era, vol. 1)
Are capitalism, globalization, and the middle class evil? A good many artists and intellectuals in the West since 1848 have thought so. Deirdre McCloskey, an internationally known economist, historian, and critic, shows why they have been mistaken. In her recently published book The Bourgeois Virtues
According to Matt Ridley of the Wall Street Journal
"an exhaustive philosophical treatise on virtue ethics, and a very fine one, too. Ms. McCloskey is spectacularly well read. She can pull an apposite quotation not only from her heroes, such as Adam Smith and Thomas Aquinas, but also from Thucydides and Machiavelli, or from the anthropologist Ruth Bendict and the contemporary philosopher Alistair MacIntyre, or (for that matter) from the movies 'Groundhog Day' and 'Shane.' What is more, she writes with wonderful ease. . . . The book radiates intelligence and insight and will illuminate my thinking for years to come" [July 22, 2006]. View this article in its entirety.
Related documents in Prudentia's archives:
See also McCloskey's published articles on "Ethics, Bourgeois Virtues, and Economics"
Praise for The Bourgeois Virtues
[Continued from above]
"The Bourgeois Virtues by Deirdre McCloskey"
Interesting write-up by the anonymous blogger of Big Sky Ideas, 20 February 2012.
McCloskey "has written a bracingly well-informed and original book. She argues that capitalism, far from being immoral as much of the left think, or amoral as many libertarians believe, is in fact fully compatible with human and ethical flourishing. And its record on actually encouraging flourishing is much better than the alternatives."Benjamin M. Freidman, Harvard
Robert W. Fogel, Nobel laureate in economics
Martha Nussbaum, Professor of Law and Ethics, University of Chicago
Ellen Charry, Professor of Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Professor of Psychology, author of Flow
Jean Bethke Elshtain, Political Science and School of Religion, University of Chicago
An Obvious Secret, James Seaton, The Weekly Standard Magazine 16(36), 6 June 2011.
Ethics for an Age of Commerce," Kasey Dufresne, Open Economics, 5 June 2011.
Why Business is Good for Your Soul, Tom R. Wells, 2011.
Peter Boettke, Economic Affairs, 2007
Capital Virtues, James Halteman, 2007
Steve Goddard, History Wire, 2007
Sten Jönsson, Scandinavian Journal of Management 23, 2007
Deirdre McCloskey's Market Path to Virtue, Andrea Gabor, Strategy+Business 43
Paul Oslington, forthcoming in Faith and Economics
Class Act, James R. Otteson, Azure Online, Winter 5768 / 2008, no. 31.
Feeling Capitalist Guilt?, Neil Reynolds, Toronto Globe and Mail, 2006
Is Capitalism Good for You? Alan Ryan, New York Review of Books, 2006
Capitalism Without Tears, Matt Ridley, Wall Street Journal, 2006
In defence of ... the bourgeoisie and capitalism?, Scott Taylor, ephemeraweb.org
Replies to reviews
[Audio file] "Session on Socialism, Racism, and Method," Gustavo Morles on McCloskey's Bourgeois Virtues, Mises Institute, 12 March 2011.
Radio broadcast on Bourgeois Virtues, "Isn't Capitalism Basically Corrupt?" Host: Michael McKay. 16 January 2010.
Video: (36:25 min.) Beyond Belief: Enlightenment 2.0, 26 December 2007.
Podcast: The Bourgeois Virtues from Russell Robert's "EconTalk," 3-31-08 (60 min.)
Podcast: Sam Tanenhaus andJennifer Shuessler on The Bourgeois Virtues, July 30, 2006. Portion on McCloskey begins at 9:08.
Podcast: Nick Shulz and McCloskey, "What's the Big Idea?" TCS Daily, September 12, 2006
Podcast: The Invisible Hand with Chris Gondek, September, 2006
Bourgeois Virtues?, DNM, May 2012
"Good Commercial Faith and the City," Mark Roark, 13 December 2011.
Order The Bourgeois Virtues
"Whether we segregate capitalists from capitalist poets, we nonetheless come to the same conclusion as Emerson and McCloskey — that commerce creates the potential for humans to be good."
The Buchanan Lecture, 7 April 2006
Bourgeois Ideology as Rhetoric, 2007
Thrift as a Virtue, Historically Criticized, 2007, Revue de Philosophe Economique 8 and Hedgehog Review
Who is Prudentia?, January 2007
The Discreet Virtues of the Bourgeoisie, History Today, September 2006
Bourgeois Virtues? Cato Institute, May 2006
Comments on The Bourgeois Virtues, April 2007: Spurgin | Hunt | Heath
Bourgeois Deeds, (draft) 14 August 2008
The Faithful and Hopeful Economic Agent (Faith and Hope, AEA 2008), a version of Chps. 10-13 of The Bourgeois Virtues
Why Economists Should Not Be Ashamed of Being the Philosophers of Prudence, Eastern Economic Journal 2003
A Review of The Economics of Sin: Rational Choice or No Choice at All?
: Are capitalism, globalization, and the middle class evil? A good many artists and intellectuals in the West since 1848 have thought so. Deirdre McCloskey, an internationally known economist, historian, and critic, shows why they have been mistaken. In her recently published book The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce
(University of Chicago Press, 2006) she puts forward a new approach to commercial life, neither country-club arrogance or centralizing imprudence. Prudence came to be viewed around 1800 as an all purpose ethical guide. Yet the new commercial economy then flourishing required in fact a full set of "bourgeois virtues." McCloskey argues that these are simply the virtues exercised in a commercial society — love and courage, prudence and justice, hope and faith and temperance. A critic from the inside of modern economics and its reduction of virtues to one, McCloskey participates in the revival of an Aristotelian and rhetorical social science — without giving up mathematics and number. Her talk ranges from Adam Smith to Babbitt, Plato to Death of a Salesman
[Continued from above]
Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World (The Bourgeois Era, vol. 2)
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.... [continues]
"Deirdre McCloksey is a maverick, and in more ways than one. A classically trained economist ... she broke ranks in 1985 with The Rhetoric of Economics, which mocked the pretensions of economists to scientific objectivity. What the profession needed was less hightfalutin' mathematics and more emphasis on persuasion, stories, rhetoric ... She is also, by her own avowal, 'a tough urban girl who can take it as well as dish it out.' And dish it out she does."
—New York Times Book Review
Related documents in Prudentia's archives:
Bourgeois Dignity is also available in paperback. Details at University of Chicago Press.
A prècis of the entire argument of the book
Human Capital and the Onset of Economic Growth, DNM, May 2012
McCloskey featured in the Boston Globe, Sunday, January 16, 2011
New York Post, "Radical idea that inspired the Industrial Revolution," DNM, 12 Feb. 2011.
Lead essay for Cato Unbound, "Bourgeois Dignity: A Revolution in Rhetoric," DNM, 4 Oct. 2010.
"Liberty and Dignity Explain the Modern World" in Tom Palmer, ed., The Morality of Capitalism, pp. 27-30.
- Praise for Bourgeois Dignity
Kelly Faircloth G+, 25 Apr 2011.
William Easterly, AidWatch, 21 March 2011.
Interview, Mariella Palazzolo, Primo Plano Scala 3(3), March 2011.
"Rivoluzione borghese del terzo millennio": Maria Teresa Cometto, Mondo di venerdì, 4 feb. 2011.
"Learning to Love the Bourgeois": Joshua Rothman, Boston Globe, 16 Jan. 2011.
"Needed: An Economics for Grownups": Matt Shaffer, National Review Online, 22 Nov. 2010.
"The Role of Rhetoric in Economics": Mark Colvin and Deirdre McCloskey. Australian Broadcasting Company radio, 17 Dec. 2010.
Henry Clark: Review, EJPE, autumn 2011.
Don Boudreaux: Review, The Independent Review 16(3), winter 2012.
Julie Novak: "Bourgeois Dignity," IPA Review, June 2011.
Joseph Sunde: "Joyful Innovators," Common Sense Concepts, May 2011.
David A. Price: Review, Region Focus, Quarter 1, 2011.
Martin Walker: "To Get Rich is Glorious," Wilson Quarterly, Spring 2011.
Stephen Matchett: "American Enterprise Down to the Wire," The Australian, 5 Mar. 2011.
Brian Anderson: "The Wealth Explosion," American Conservative, 3 Mar. 2011.
Jared Rubin: "Review of Bourgeois Dignity," EH Net, 23 Feb. 2011.
Josh Rothman: "Learning to Love the Bourgeois," The Boston Globe, 16 Jan. 2011.
Diane Coyle: "A Kinder Capitalism," The New Statesman, 20 Jan. 2011.
Hugo Mercier: "Bourgeois Dignity: What doesn't explain the industrial revolution," with a reply from McCloskey, 12 Dec. 2010.
Josh Rothman: "How 'Bourgeois Dignity' Created the Modern World," Boston Globe, 7 Dec. 2010.
Rich Lowry, "Is Capitalism Really Capitalism?" National Review, 3 Dec. 2010.
Steven Horwitz, "Where the Bourgeois Virtues Are Found," 11 Nov. 2010.
John Allemang: "How the bourgeoisie changed the world — in a good way," The Globe and Mail, 26 Nov. 2010.
Rich Lowry: "Innovation Is the Thing," 3 Dec. 2010.
Robert Fulford: "Once a Man, Always Brilliant," National Post, 6 Nov. 2010.
Andrew P. Morriss: "The Bourgeois Revaluation," Books & Culture, Nov/Dec 2010.
Replies to reviews
Some responses to Paul Hohenberg, DNM, June, 2011.
A Liberal and Rhetorical Reply (to a special issue on Bourgeois Dignity in the Journal of Socio-Economics), DNM, July, 2011.
Some Responses to Paul Hohenberg's Views on Bourgeois Dignity, DNM, June, 2011.
(Concerning Matt Ridley) "Humanomics: Values and Innovation," DNM Cato Unbound, 12 Oct. 2010.
(Concerning Greg Clark) "I Too Was Once a Materialist," Cato Unbound, 13 Oct. 2010.
"Reply to Greg Clark on China's Dishonesty," Cato Unbound, DNM, 18 Oct. 2010.
"The Same Anti-Economic Project of Creativity: Reply to Jonathan Feinstein," DNM, Cato Unbound, 19 Oct. 2010.
"This is the wonder-working power of economic freedom and dignity," James Pethokoukis, The Enterprise Blog, 7 March 2012.
Pethokoukis's preface to a quote from Deirdre McCloskey's Bourgeois Dignity: "[W]hat people hear and believe matters. Really matters."
For our Italian readers, an editorial based on McCloskey's Bourgeois Dignity:
"Come dare dignità al nostro futuro" di Barbara Spinelli, La Repubblico, 11 gennaio 2012.
Stephen Matchett: : If not economists, then who? The Australian, 6 July 2011.
India Says No to $80 Toilet Paper, Gurcharan Das, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 2011
Peter Boettke: A Behavioral Approach to the Political and Economic Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 22 July 2011
"Can rhetoric change reality?" Dr Tariq Rahman, IHT, 12 June 2011
Comments from The Blogora Rhetoric Society of America, 8 June 2011.
"What Doesn't Create Growth," from blog by darfferrara, 15 May 2011.
Donald Beaudreaux's columns for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Ryan Safner: "Deirdre McCloskey on How 'Bourgeois Dignity' Explains the Modern World," 11 Feb 2011.
Leonard Long: "Book of the Week," Cosmopolitan Lawyer, 30 Jan. 2011.
Riccardo Sorrentino, "McCloskey e la nuova rivoluzione industriale," MEF Economica, 17 dicembre 2010.
Riccardo Sorrentino, "Il progresso? Decoro e innovazione," Il Sole 24 Ore, 17 dicembre 2010.
Terence Corcoran: "Sunny forecast rains on gloomfest," Financial Post, 24 Jan. 2011.
Ted Fischer: Deirdre McCloskey's Bourgeois Dignity, and Anthropology and Science, 16 Jan. 2011.
Thomas Wells: 'I bring good news about our bourgeois lives': Why business is good for your soul, The Philosopher's Beard, Erasmus University of Rotterdam, 5 Dec. 2010.
The Australian, 15 Jan. 2011.
Peter Boettke: "McCloskey on Bourgeois Dignity," 14 Dec. 2010.
Art Carden in Forbes, "'Surplus Population?' Sorry, Mr. Scrooge, But You're Mistaken," 15 Dec. 2010.
Jason Kuznicki: Reaction, Cato@Liberty, 5 Oct. 2010.
David Ruccio: "Discreet rhetoric of the bourgeoisie," 13 Oct. 2010. (with comment by McCloskey).
Julie Kirsten Novak, McCloskey on 'bourgeois dignity', 6 Oct. 2010.
Julie Kirsten Novak, Bourgeois Dignity, 19 Nov. 2009.
Chris Chantrill's "McCloskey Week" from An American Manifesto
Ammo for the Battle of Ideas,, 1 Jan. 2011.
Big Fact Versus Big Mistake, 29 Dec. 2010.
The Messenger, 24 Dec. 2010:
We "have needed a Deirdre McCloskey for decades. We have needed a serious political philosopher [who] knew the foundations of the grand western project but also knew all the ins and outs of recent cultural thought, the modernisms and post-modernisms that leave most conservatives non-plussed and resentful."
It's Not What You Think, 23 Dec. 2010.
The Moral Case Against Obamanomics, 22 Dec. 2010.
Bourgeois Dignity, 21 Dec. 2010:
"[I]t is long, it is ambitious, it is insufferable, and it is brilliant."
Conservatism's Big Problem, 20 Dec. 2010.
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.