Economics and Philosophy reading list

Here are Brad DeLong’s picks for such a class. I’ll add Derek Parfit to the list, and maybe Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau, in his Second Discourse, questioned the identification of wealth with welfare. Instead he saw market society as leading individuals into “approbational traps,” whereby they seek more approval but find themselves on a fruitless treadmill in this regard. Parfit asks whether utilitarianism (or consequentialism more generally) can ever dovetail with common sense intuitive morality. I also would have them read McCloskey on economic rhetoric, to better understand the nature of economic argumentation. Then you could add Thomas Schelling on multiple selves, to illustrate the complexities of individual choice; Parfit chips in on this topic as well. If I taught the class for twenty-five weeks, I would consider using Plato’s Republic, which pretty much contains every argument ever made since.

Hey, I taught that class two years ago…!