Podcast: Tyler Cowen’s stubborn philosophical attachments

By Cardiff Garcia Apr 28, 2017 4:30 AM EDT

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Alphachat is available on Acast, iTunes and Stitcher.

Did you know that Tyler Cowen, the economist and polymathic blogger at Marginal Revolution, has published a philosophical essay at a secret url? Well, secret-ish, as Tyler did offer to send the link to buyers of The Complacent Class, the third book in his series about productivity and economic stagnation.

I wanted to discuss the essay, Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals, on Alphachat, so Tyler said he’d be okay with sharing the link publicly for the first time here on Alphaville.

Tyler’s vision relies on two fundamental philosophical moves. From the essay:

First, I do not take the productive powers of economies for granted. Production could be much greater than it is today and our lives could be more splendid. Or if we make some big mistakes production could be much less and we could all be much poorer. This simple observation helps us put the idea of production at the center of moral theory, as without production value is problematic. …

Second, I will seek to revise some of our intuitions about “moral distance.” Which individuals should have a pull on our choices and which should have less influence? I will argue for instance that the individuals who will live in the future should be less distant from us, in moral terms, than many people believe. Their interests should have greater sway over our calculations and that means we should invest more in the future. Even though it is sometimes hard for us to imagine the consequences of our actions for future people, especially people from the more distant future, their moral import remains high. I thus will be asking for a greater faith in the future. I am not asking for

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