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Deirdre McCloskey

The jacket to one of her books, published by the University of Chicago Press, tells that "Deirdre Nansen McCloskey is an emeritus distinguished professor of economics and of history, and professor of English and of communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago." According to Wikipedia she is also adjunct professor of Philosophy and Classics there, and for five years was a visiting Professor of philosophy at Erasmus University, Rotterdam. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Economics at Harvard University. She was born on September 11, 1942.

She has been, a distinguished professor of economics, history, English, and communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Trained at Harvard as an economist, she has written 15 books and edited seven more and has published 360 articles on economic theory, economic history, philosophy, rhetoric, feminism, ethics, and law. She is described as one of the world’s leading public intellectuals and economists.

She has an article "Modern epistemology against analytic philosophy: A reply to Mäki" that was published in the Journal of Economic Literature in 1995.

McCloskey has described herself as a literary, quantitative, postmodern, free-market, progressive libertarian.

The columnist George Will told her: "What the postmodernists and deconstructionists would say is materialism proves that our ideas are social constructs and, therefore, without dignity and, therefore, without primary force." She answered:

Yeah. Well, that’s one kind of postmodernist. If you look into my other books, George, and books I wrote in the 1980s and early ’90s, you’ll see that I proudly nail my flag to the flag post of postmodernism. But my postmodernism is I guess I’d have to say now liberal postmodernism. It’s not this somewhat loony form that some of my friends in the English department advocate.

George Will told her he thought one of her books is "a cry for individualism." She answered:

Yeah. It is. A kind of individualism, you know, an individualism that respects others, not sort of Ayn Rand screw you, I’m all right.

Someone asked McCloskey if she were familiar with Antonio Gramsci’s synthesis of materialism and idealism. McCloskey answered:

Very much so. He’s one of my heroes, Antonio is. Michael Walzer, a political scientist at the Institute for Advanced Study, said of Antonio Gramsci that he was that rarest of things in the 20th century, an innocent communist because the fascist government jailed him and he died in jail. And, indeed, I quote Gramsci, and, you know, he’s a communist. I don’t agree with much of what he says, but I do agree with his — it’s actually an extension of what I was saying before about Lenin — that Gramsci understood the force of ideas.

The philosopher Martha Nussbaum writes of one of McCloskey trilogy of books, The Bourgeois Virtues:

The Bourgeois Virtues is like no other book on this topic. Exhilarating and provocative, surprising, at times maddening, but always insightful, it powerfully argues against a narrow conception of economic rationality based on prudence alone.

Here is a video on a bourgeois conservative website, www.learnliberty.org, with McCloskey describing the growth of wealth from ages ago and income disparity.

McCloskey, by the way, does not describe herself as a conservative. She describes herself as a "literary, quantitative, postmodern, free-market, progressive Episcopalian."

McCloskey has a website: http://www.deirdremccloskey.org

Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.