We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Race, Liberalism, and Economics

David Colander, Robert E. Prasch, and Falguni A. Sheth, Editors

Publication Year: 2004

Noneconomists often think that economists' approach to race is almost exclusively one of laissez-faire. Racism, Liberalism, and Economics argues that economists' ideas are more complicated. The book considers economists' support of markets in relation to the challenge of race and race relations and argues that their support of laissez-faire has traditionally been based upon a broader philosophical foundation of liberalism and history: what markets have and have not achieved in the past, and how that past relates to the future. The book discusses the concepts of liberalism and racism, the history and use of these terms, and how that history relates to policy issues. It argues that liberalism is consistent with a wide variety of policies and that the broader philosophical issues are central in choosing policies. The contributors show how the evolution of racist ideas has been a subtle process that is woven into larger movements in the development of scientific thought; economic thinking is embedded in a larger social milieu. Previous discussions of policies toward race have been constrained by that social milieu, and, since World War II, have largely focused on ending legislated and state-sanctioned discrimination. In the past decade, the broader policy debate has moved on to questions about the existence and relative importance of intangible sources of inequality, including market structure, information asymmetries, cumulative processes, and cultural and/or social capital. This book is a product of, and a contribution to, this modern discussion. It is uniquely transdisciplinary, with contributions by and discussions among economists, philosophers, anthropologists, and literature scholars. The volume first examines the early history of work on race by economists and social scientists more generally. It continues by surveying American economists on race and featuring contributions that embody more modern approaches to race within economics. Finally it explores several important policy issues that follow from the discussion. ". . . adds new insights that contribute significantly to the debate on racial economic inequality in the U.S. The differing opinions of the contributors provide the broad perspective needed to examine this extremely complex issue." --James Peoples, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee "There is an immense economic literature on racial discrimination, employing a variety of models and decomposition methods. This volume makes a unique contribution by focusing on the philosophical assumptions at the root of this analysis and by presenting many sides of the very vigorous debate surrounding these controversial issues." --Thomas Maloney, University of Utah "By focusing upon the progress of analytical technique, historians of economic thought have grossly neglected the symbiotic relation of economics to public policy and ideology. This collection of essays offers a most welcome breach of disciplinary apartheid. Seizing upon recent research in the almost forgotten writings about race of Classical economists and their contemporaries, it relates nineteenth-century ideas to current debates about economic discrimination and other manifestations of racism. As the writing is both learned and lively, the book should appeal both to the generally educated reader and to teachers of courses in multiculturalism." --Melvin Reder, Isidore Brown and Gladys J. Brown Professor Emeritus of Urban and Labor Economics, University of Chicago

Published by: University of Michigan Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (51.4 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (114.3 KB)
pp. ix-x

Economics is about policy, and policy by nature is transdisciplinary. This book attempts to look, in a broader manner than is usually done, at economic ideas as they relate to race and to policies that deal with racial inequalities. It was inspired (or maybe the better word is provoked) by David Levy's work on the history of economics and its relationship to ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.3 MB)
pp. 1-18

Economic reasoning is often presented as a technical exercise-optimizing, solving for second-order conditions, or relating costs to benefits. It certainly involves such issues, but in reality the techniques of economics are simply elements of a broader reasoning process that leads from basic philosophical principles to policy precepts. As John Maynard Keynes put ...

PART I Classical Economic and Early Approaches to Race

read more

Apes, Essences, and Races: What Natural Scientists Believed about Human Variation, 1700-1900

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.3 MB)
pp. 21-55

Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, both social scientists and natural scientists addressed the question of why Europeans and some of their descendants dominated the rest of the world militarily and economically. They also tackled the deeper and more fundamental questions of what human beings are, how they fit into the scheme of the natural ...

read more

The Negro Science of Exchange: Classical Economics and Its Chicago Revival

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.9 MB)
pp. 56-84

For analytical purposes, are economic agents—humans—the same or not? In this chapter, we argue that, historically, the debate between those who trusted in markets and those who did not followed logically from different answers to this question. Starting with Adam Smith, classical economists held that humans are the same in their capacity for language and trade. ...

read more

Contextualizing David Levy's How the Dismal Science Got Its Name; or, Revisiting the Victorian Context of David Levy's History of Race and Economics

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.0 MB)
pp. 85-99

In How the Dismal Science Got Its Name (200I), David Levy opens with an analysis of an I893 depiction of John Ruskin, author of Unto This Last (I 862), one of the most influential nineteenth-century attacks on classical economic theory. Levy turns to this image, the cover illustration of Ruskin on Himself and Things in General (I 893), for visual proof that proslavery ...

read more

John Stuart Mill on Race, Liberty, and Markets

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.4 MB)
pp. 100-120

In the second chapter in this volume, David Levy and Sandra Peart consider classical economics and its revival by the Chicago school and suggest that the racism and pros lavery positions promulgated by such writers as Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin are closely linked to their anti-free-market—or as Levy and Peart call it, paternalist—attitudes. In opposition to ...

PART 2 Neoclassical and Modern Approaches to Racism

read more

"Not an Average Human Being": How Economics Succumbed to Racial Accounts of Economic Man

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.3 MB)
pp. 123-144

Our earlier contribution to this volume showed how racial theorizing was used to attack the antislavery coalition of evangelicals and economists in mid-nineteenth-century Britain. Classical economists favored race-neutral accounts of human nature, and they presumed that agents are equally competent to make economic decisions. Their opponents, such as Carlyle ...

read more

One Hundred Years of American Economists on Race and Discrimination, 1881 - 1981

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.7 MB)
pp. 145-181

Sixty years ago, Gunnar Myrdal observed that American racism represented a pressing dilemma because it coexisted so readily, if somewhat uneasily, with the founding ideas of the United States that it is a "self-evident truth" that "all men are created equal." Understanding the cause, meaning, and persistence of racial injustice has also presented a dilemma to American economists. Moreover...

read more

Racial Discrimination in the Labor Market

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.6 MB)
pp. 182-204

There is substantial racial disparity in the American economy, and a major cause of this is discriminatory treatment within labor markets. The evidence is ubiquitous and includes careful research studies that estimate wage and employment regressions, help-wanted advertisements, audit and correspondence studies, and discrimination suits that are often reported by ...

read more

Liberty and Equality and Diversity? Thoughts on Liberalism and Racial Inequality after Capitalism's Latest Triumph

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.4 MB)
pp. 205-237

Can civil society be a space where free people of divergent and even antagonistic faiths—including tribes in the grip of the delusion of race—live peacefully on the basis of a social contract where all agree to provide for the basic needs of each in the name of equality? No, say the classical liberals, particularly Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek, whose midcentury warnings ...

read more

The Anatomy of Racial Inequality: A Clarification

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.3 MB)
pp. 238-256

In The Anatomy of Racial Inequality, I have tried to do three things: outline a theory of "race" applicable to the social and historical circumstances of the United States; sketch an account of why racial inequality in our society is so stubbornly persistent; and offer a conceptual framework for the practice of social criticism on race-related issues—criticism that might ...

PART 3 Policy Issues

read more

Pragmatism, Liberalism, and Economic Policy

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 259-274

Debates about esoteric topics in history often are conducted because they have importance in setting a context for modem policy debates. The Carlyle-Mill debate discussed in the first part of this book seems to fit that mold. It is important for the modem policy debate about what set of policies is most appropriate to deal with race-associated problems that our ...

read more

Better Recreational Drugs: Unleashing Technology to Win the War on Bad Drugs

pdf iconDownload PDF (544.8 KB)
pp. 275-283

The problem with recreational and occupational drugs1 in the United States today is not the drugs we have but the drugs we do not have. We do not have modem drugs that can satisfy the demand for mood-altering and consciousness-changing experiences in a safe and effective way. Instead, we are saddled with old drugs, both legal and illegal, that generally have ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.6 MB)
pp. 285-307

About the Authors

pdf iconDownload PDF (323.8 KB)
pp. 309-313


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.4 MB)
pp. 315-334

E-ISBN-13: 9780472024841
E-ISBN-10: 0472024841
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472032242
Print-ISBN-10: 0472032240

Page Count: 344
Illustrations: 1 drawing, 3 tables
Publication Year: 2004