Becker and Posner's Uncommon Sense

The popular Becker-Posner blog has been turned into an excellent book entitled Uncommon Sense.

For anyone who wants a quick and easy crash course on Chicago economics-style thinking, this book is as good as it gets. It collects a few years’ worth of their weekly blog posts, adding reflections the two thinkers have had since the original posts, as well as an introduction that nicely describes the basic principles of their worldview.

If you are cheap, you can get the blog posts for free; if you are lazy, the book is an easy way to quickly access the material. (I guess the fact that I only sometimes read their blog posts but I read nearly the whole book in one sitting means that I am lazy!)

One of their beliefs (which I share) is that economics can be applied to any topic. They demonstrate that point, writing about everything from polygamy (Posner seems to be in favor of it; Becker is on the fence) to the fat tax (both against) to whether rising inequality is a bad thing (both say no).

The only drawback to the Becker-Posner collaboration, in my mind, is that more often than not, they agree on the answers to the questions they pose. The most interesting dialogues occur when they find themselves on opposite sides of the fence.

I wonder if in the future they couldn’t occasionally bring in a smart outsider with a different worldview to spice up the debates?

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  1. frankenduf says:

    sigh- another plug for “chicago economics style thinking”- as if any one of the millions currently suffering under ‘free’ market abuse should be subjected to- here’s a note to the ‘thinkers’: think about justice- then you’ll realize why rising inequality is a bad thing

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  2. Owen says:

    Since when did economics become synonymous with incentives.

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  3. Josh says:

    What if I am cheap AND lazy?

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  4. Ben D says:

    “One of their beliefs (which I share) is that economics can be applied to any topic.”

    At what point did economics co-opt the scientific method?

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  5. David Gutting says:

    Of course these guys don’t think rising inequality is a bad thing. Their economic view promotes. Their very livelihood depends on it.

    Hey, the Lords of the Manor didn’t think rising feudalism was a bad thing.

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  6. Dan says:

    “One of their beliefs (which I share) is that economics can be applied to any topic.”

    This is why we have economists doing everything from junk psychology (“behavioral” economics) to junk philosophy (the “moral” philosophy of taxation, for instance). Given the time, I probably could find examples in every field from anthropology to zoology.

    It would be just splendid if economists wouldn’t mind admitting that economics is just one of many disciplines and that no, they aren’t necessarily the primary experts on everything.

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  7. adam says:

    Josh – request it from the library.

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  8. myron says:

    If you are looking for a serious critique of the chicago school, I’d recommend you read “Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein. If after reading that you still think that chicago school doctrine is a positive contribution to society, have fun at your next Ayn Rand discussion group.

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