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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 176 of Deirdre McCloskey’s 2006 essay “Humility and truth in economics,” which is a chapter in the 2006 collection Humane Economics: Essays in Honor of Don Lavoie (Jack High, ed.) (original emphasis):

Yet one approach to economics does at least recommend humility, scientifically speaking – not the Marxist economics I started with; not the Harvard neoclassical and Chicago-School economics I was trained in and practiced; but the Austrian economics  that Don [Lavoie] discovered young as a student of computer science and improved in all his work.  Austrian economists have been telling the rest of us all along that the economic scientist cannot expect to outguess the businessperson.


Economist and philosopher Don Lavoie* was in his final year of PhD work in the NYU Economics department when I was in my first year of graduate work there (1980-81).  Don then took a job in the Economics department at George Mason, where he and Jack High were instrumental in hiring George Selgin and me to the GMU Econ faculty in 1985.  Among Don’s many important works is his 1985 book, Rivalry and Central Planning; and among Don’s students is my current GMU Econ and Mercatus Center colleague Pete Boettke.

Unfortunately, Don died – at the too-young age of 50 – just after I returned to the GMU Econ faculty in the Fall of 2001.  The last time I saw Don was a few weeks before he died in November 2001; it was at a seminar given on GMU’s Fairfax campus by Deirdre McCloskey.  Don was then, as he had always been, intellectually engaged, curious, and insightful.  Remarkably, although we all knew that he was seriously ill, Don showed no signs of his ill-health during that intellectual event.

Don is much missed.

* Don is wearing the cardigan sweater in the photo at this link.  Jack High, wearing a tie, is to Don’s right, and that looks like Tom Palmer to Jack’s immediate right – but Tom just told me that it’s not him.  Partially obscured by Tom-lookalike’s head is, I’m pretty sure, Howie Baetjer, then a PhD student at GMU Econ and now a professor of economics at Towson University – and author of the excellent 2013 book Free Our Markets.  To Don’s immediate left is Clayton Coppin, an historian who teamed up with Jack High to uncover a largely unknown early history of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  And to Clayton’s left is, I think, Carpe Diem‘s own Mark Perry.  I cannot recall the name of the bearded guy over Don’s right shoulder.  If anyone knows, please tell me.  (And if and when I learn his name I’ll almost certainly be chagrined for not recalling it immediately.)  This photo was almost certainly taken, in the late 1980s or early 1990s, in Robinson Hall on George Mason’s Fairfax campus (probably in the conference room for what was then the Center for the Study of Market Processes, which is the predecessor of the Mercatus Center).


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