Bryan Caplan

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Bryan Caplan
BryanCaplan.jpg
Bryan Caplan, 2007
Born (1971-04-08) April 8, 1971 (age 50)
Field Economics
School or
tradition
Anarcho-capitalism
Libertarianism
Public choice
Alma mater
Influences Ben Bernanke, [1] James M. Buchanan, Michael Huemer, Ludwig von Mises, [2] Philip Tetlock [3]
Contributions Rational irrationality
Information at IDEAS / RePEc
Website bcaplan.com

Bryan Douglas Caplan (born April 8, 1971) is an American economist and author. Caplan is a professor of economics at George Mason University, research fellow at the Mercatus Center, adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and former contributor to the Freakonomics blog; [4] he also publishes his own blog, EconLog. He is a self-described "economic libertarian". [5] [6] The bulk of Caplan's academic work is in behavioral economics and public economics, especially public choice theory. [7]

Contents

Education

Caplan holds a B.A. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley (1993) and a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University (1997). [8]

Writings

The Myth of the Rational Voter

The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, published in 2007, further develops the "rational irrationality" concept from Caplan's earlier academic writing. It draws heavily from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy in making the argument that voters have systematically biased beliefs about many important economic topics. Caplan writes that rational irrationality is an explanation for the failure of democracy. [9] The book was reviewed in the popular press, including The Wall Street Journal , [10] The New York Times , [11] and The New Yorker , [7] as well as in academic publications such as the Journal of Libertarian Studies , [12] Public Choice , [13] Libertarian Papers, [14] and The Independent Review . [15] It received a disparaging critique by Rupert Read in the European Review . [16]

Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids

In 2011, Caplan published his second book, titled Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, arguing that people often work too hard in child-rearing, and as a result, they are scared of the idea of having children. Caplan's book urged parents to relax with respect to child-rearing. The book argues that as the perceived costs (in terms of child-rearing expense and effort) of having children fell, it made sense to have more children based on the basic theory of supply and demand. [17] The book was reviewed in The Wall Street Journal, [18] The Guardian , [19] RealClearMarkets, [20] and The Washington Times . [21] It also led to debates sponsored by The Wall Street Journal [22] and The Guardian. [23] The Guardian had Caplan debating "Tiger Mom" Amy Chua on the merits of strict parenting style. [23] The book was also featured in a story on National Public Radio. [24] Kirkus Reviews described it as "inconsistent and unpersuasive." [25]

"The Ideological Turing Test"

In a June 2011 blog post titled "The Ideological Turing Test" contesting Paul Krugman's claim that political liberals can accurately state conservatives' views but not vice versa, Caplan proposed a test analogous to a kind of Turing test: instead of judging whether a chatbot had accurately imitated a person, the test would judge whether a person had accurately stated the views of ideological opponents to the opponents' satisfaction. [26] [27] Other writers have since said of someone that they can (or can't) "pass an ideological Turing test" if they are deemed to be capable (or incapable) of understanding and accurately stating an adversary's arguments. [27] [28] [29]

The Case Against Education

The Case Against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money , was published in 2018 by Princeton University Press. Drawing on the economic concept of job market signaling and research in educational psychology, the book argues that much of higher education is very inefficient and has only a small effect in improving human capital, contrary to much of the conventional consensus in labor economics that Caplan claims takes the human capital theory for granted.[ citation needed ]

Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration

Caplan and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal cartoonist Zach Weinersmith created the graphic non-fiction book Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration, which was released on October 29, 2019. [30]

Tyler Cowen called it "a landmark in economic education, how to present economic ideas, and the integration of economic analysis and graphic visuals." The Economist praised it as "a model of respectful, persuasive argument". [31]

Kevin D. Williamson concluded a review of the book with "But Professor Caplan’s argument is multifaceted, energetically presented, fun to read, and worth giving some real attention to if only as an exercise in clarifying one’s own thinking about the question". [32]

Views

Caplan was cited as one of the leading proponents of the open borders position in articles in The Atlantic and Vox . [33] [34] He has also been quoted on the topic of immigration in outlets such as the Huffington Post [35] and Time magazine. [36]

Caplan's anarcho-capitalist views were discussed by Brian Doherty in his book Radicals for Capitalism and in Reason magazine. [37] Caplan has claimed that anarcho-capitalists have a better claim on the history of anarchist thought than "mainstream anarchists", or "left-anarchists", as he refers to them.[ citation needed ] However, this claim has been disputed by other anarchists. [38] [39]

Personal life

Caplan is married to Corina Caplan, with four children, and resides in Oakton, Virginia. [40] [41]

Related Research Articles

Anarcho-capitalism is a political philosophy and economic theory that advocates the elimination of centralized states in favor of a system of private property enforced by private agencies, free markets and the right-libertarian interpretation of self-ownership, which extends the concept to include control of private property as part of the self. In the absence of statute, anarcho-capitalists hold that society tends to contractually self-regulate and civilize through participation in the free market which they describe as a voluntary society. In a theoretical anarcho-capitalist society, the system of private property would still exist and be enforced by private defense agencies and insurance companies selected by customers which would operate competitively in a market and fulfill the roles of courts and the police. Anarcho-capitalists claim that various theorists have espoused philosophies similar to anarcho-capitalism. However, anarcho-capitalism was developed in the 20th century and the first person to use the term anarcho-capitalism was Murray Rothbard. Rothbard synthesized elements from the Austrian School, classical liberalism and 19th-century American individualist anarchists and mutualists Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker while rejecting their labor theory of value and the anti-capitalist and socialist norms they derived from it. Rothbard's anarcho-capitalist society would operate under a mutually agreed-upon "legal code which would be generally accepted, and which the courts would pledge themselves to follow". This legal code would recognize contracts, private property, self-ownership and tort law in keeping with the non-aggression principle.

The Austrian School is a heterodox school of economic thought that is based on methodological individualism, the concept that social phenomena result exclusively from the motivations and actions of individuals.

David D. Friedman American economist, physicist, legal scholar, and libertarian theorist (born 1945)

David Director Friedman is an American economist, physicist, legal scholar, and anarcho-capitalist theorist, described by Walter E. Block as a "free-market anarchist". Although he studied chemistry and physics and not law or economics, he is known for his textbook writings on microeconomics and the libertarian theory of anarcho-capitalism, which is the subject of his most popular book, The Machinery of Freedom. He has also authored several other books and articles, including Price Theory: An Intermediate Text (1986), Law's Order: What Economics Has to Do with Law and Why It Matters (2000), Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life (1996), and Future Imperfect (2008).

The economic calculation problem is a criticism of using economic planning as a substitute for market-based allocation of the factors of production. It was first proposed by Ludwig von Mises in his 1920 article "Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth" and later expanded upon by Friedrich Hayek.

Murray Rothbard American economist (1926–1995)

Murray Newton Rothbard was an American heterodox economist of the Austrian School, economic historian and political theorist. Rothbard was a founder and leading theoretician of anarcho-capitalism, a staunch advocate of historical revisionism and a central figure in the 20th-century American libertarian movement. He wrote over twenty books on political theory, history, economics, and other subjects.

Public choice, or public choice theory, is "the use of economic tools to deal with traditional problems of political science". Its content includes the study of political behavior. In political science, it is the subset of positive political theory that studies self-interested agents and their interactions, which can be represented in a number of ways – using standard constrained utility maximization, game theory, or decision theory. It is the origin and intellectual foundation of contemporary work in political economy.

Criticism of libertarianism includes ethical, economic, environmental and pragmatic concerns and is often focused on right-libertarianism. Critics have argued that laissez-faire capitalism does not necessarily produce the best or most efficient outcome, and that libertarianism's philosophy of individualism and policies of deregulation fail to prevent the abuse of natural resources. Criticism of left-libertarianism is instead mainly related to anarchism and includes allegations of utopianism, tacit authoritarianism and vandalism towards feats of civilization. Left and right-libertarians also engage in criticism of each other.

Left-libertarianism, also known as egalitarian libertarianism, left-wing libertarianism or social libertarianism, is a political philosophy and type of libertarianism that stresses both individual freedom and social equality. Left-libertarianism represents several related yet distinct approaches to political and social theory. In its classical usage, it refers to anti-authoritarian varieties of left-wing politics such as anarchism, especially social anarchism, whose adherents simply call it libertarianism. In the United States, it represents the left-wing of the libertarian movement and the political positions associated with academic philosophers Hillel Steiner, Philippe Van Parijs and Peter Vallentyne that combine self-ownership with an egalitarian approach to natural resources. This is done to distinguish libertarian views on the nature of property and capital, usually along left–right or socialist–capitalist lines.

Libertarianism is a political philosophy that upholds liberty as a core principle. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and political freedom, emphasizing free association, freedom of choice, individualism and voluntary association. Libertarians share a skepticism of authority and state power, but some libertarians diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing economic and political systems. Various schools of libertarian thought offer a range of views regarding the legitimate functions of state and private power, often calling for the restriction or dissolution of coercive social institutions. Different categorizations have been used to distinguish various forms of libertarianism. Scholars distinguish libertarian views on the nature of property and capital, usually along left–right or socialist–capitalist lines.

In the United States, libertarianism is a political philosophy promoting individual liberty. According to common meanings of conservatism and liberalism in the United States, libertarianism has been described as conservative on economic issues and liberal on personal freedom, often associated with a foreign policy of non-interventionism. Broadly, there are four principal traditions within libertarianism, namely the libertarianism that developed in the mid-20th century out of the revival tradition of classical liberalism in the United States after liberalism associated with the New Deal; the libertarianism developed in the 1950s by anarcho-capitalist author Murray Rothbard, who based it on the anti-New Deal Old Right and 19th-century libertarianism and American individualist anarchists such as Benjamin Tucker and Lysander Spooner while rejecting the labor theory of value in favor of Austrian School economics and the subjective theory of value; the libertarianism developed in the 1970s by Robert Nozick and founded in American and European classical liberal traditions; and the libertarianism associated to the Libertarian Party which was founded in 1971, including politicians such as David Nolan and Ron Paul.

"An Anarchist FAQ" is a FAQ written by an international work group of social anarchists connected through the internet. It documents anarchist theory and ideas and argues in favor of social anarchism. It also explores other debates internal to the anarchist movement and aims to counter common arguments against anarchism. It has been in constant evolution since 1995. While it was started as a critique of anarcho-capitalism, by the time it was officially released it had become a general introduction to anarchism.

Right-libertarianism, also known as libertarian capitalism or right-wing libertarianism, is a political philosophy and type of libertarianism that supports capitalist property rights and defends market distribution of natural resources and private property. The term right-libertarianism is used to distinguish this class of views on the nature of property and capital from left-libertarianism, a type of libertarianism that combines self-ownership with an egalitarian approach to natural resources. In contrast to socialist libertarianism, right-libertarianism supports free-market capitalism. Like most forms of libertarianism, it supports civil liberties, especially natural law, negative rights, and a major reversal of the modern welfare state.

<i>The Myth of the Rational Voter</i> 2007 book by Bryan Caplan

The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies is a 2007 book by the economist Bryan Caplan, in which the author challenges the idea that voters are reasonable people whom society can trust to make laws. Rather, Caplan contends that voters are irrational in the political sphere and have systematically biased ideas concerning economics.

The concept known as rational irrationality was popularized by economist Bryan Caplan in 2001 to reconcile the widespread existence of irrational behavior with the assumption of rationality made by mainstream economics and game theory. The theory, along with its implications for democracy, was expanded upon by Caplan in his book The Myth of the Rational Voter.

The altruism theory of voting is a model of voter behavior which states that if citizens in a democracy have "social" preferences for the welfare of others, the extremely low probability of a single vote determining an election will be outweighed by the large cumulative benefits society will receive from the voter’s preferred policy being enacted, such that it is rational for an “altruistic” citizen, who receives utility from helping others, to vote. Altruistic voting has been compared to purchasing a lottery ticket, in which the probability of winning is extremely low but the payoff is large enough that the expected benefit outweighs the cost.

Social anarchism is the branch of anarchism that sees individual freedom as interrelated with mutual aid. Social anarchist thought emphasizes community and social equality as complementary to autonomy and personal freedom. It attempts to accomplish this balance through freedom of speech, which is maintained in a decentralized federalism, with freedom of interaction in thought and subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is best defined as "that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise and industry" and that "[f]or every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them", or the slogan "Do not take tools out of people's hands".

Ilya Somin is a law professor at George Mason University, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, a blogger for the Volokh Conspiracy, and a former co-editor of the Supreme Court Economic Review (2006–2013). His research focuses on constitutional law, property law, migration rights, and the study of popular political participation and its implications for constitutional democracy.

Michael Huemer

Michael Huemer is a professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has defended ethical intuitionism, direct realism, libertarianism, veganism, and philosophical anarchism.

Neoclassical liberalism, also referred to as Arizona School liberalism and bleeding-heart libertarianism, is a libertarian political philosophy that focuses on the compatibility of support for civil liberties and free markets on the one hand and a concern for social justice and the well-being of the worst-off on the other. Adherents of neoclassical liberalism broadly hold that an agenda focused upon individual liberty will be of most benefit to the economically weak and socially disadvantaged.

The Case Against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money is a book written by libertarian economist Bryan Caplan and published in 2018 by Princeton University Press. Drawing on the economic concept of job market signaling and research in educational psychology, the book argues that much of higher education is very inefficient and has only a small effect in improving human capital, contrary to the conventional consensus in labor economics.

References

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  2. "Why I Am Not an Austrian Economist". Econfaculty.gmu.edu. Archived from the original on July 4, 2019. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
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  13. Lomasky, Loren (June 2008). "Swing and a myth: a review of Caplan's The Myth of the Rational Voter". Public Choice. 135 (3–4): 469–484. doi:10.1007/s11127-007-9273-7. S2CID   153330363.
  14. Farrand, Stuart (2010). "Critique of Caplan's The Myth of the Rational Voter" (PDF). Libertarian Papers, Vol. 2, Article No. 28. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 31, 2018. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
  15. Callahan, Gene (Winter 2009). "The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (book review)". The Independent Review . Archived from the original on July 31, 2018. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
  16. Read, Rupert (December 14, 2010). "Economist-kings? A Critical Notice on Caplan, The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies". European Review. Cambridge University Press. 19 (1): 119–129. doi:10.1017/S1062798710000426. S2CID   143437722. Caplan's The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies has been received by rave reviews. These reviews appear to have failed to note that Caplan's book celebrates the market and denigrates democracy at the very time when markets worldwide have failed and democracies have ridden to the rescue. It thus appears to have been undermined fatally by events that occurred as it was published (and which Caplan artfully omits to mention in the more recent paperback edition). Caplan's book in fact stands in the long tradition of anti-democratic writings that argue that an elite must rule. An elite of free-market economists. An elite no longer in good odour, since the financial crisis (and the climate crisis) occurred and became starkly evident to all. This Critical Notice also points out that numerous of Caplan's key claims, such as that individual voters have zero effect on election results, are empirically false.
  17. Davis, Tanika (October 15, 2015). "Are parents making parenting harder than it has to be?". Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on May 11, 2019. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
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  26. Hannon, Michael (November 2020). "Empathetic understanding and deliberative democracy". Philosophy and Phenomenological Research . 101 (3): 591–611 (600). doi:10.1111/phpr.12624. A useful heuristic is what Bryan Caplan (2011) calls the 'political turing test'. Caplan actually calls this the 'ideological turing test', but I prefer my label in the context of this paper.
  27. 1 2 Galef, Julia (2021). "Could you pass an ideological Turing test?". The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don't. New York: Portfolio/Penguin. pp. 203–205 (204). ISBN   9780735217553. OCLC   1164823768. I treat the ideological Turing test as a kind of 'North Star', an ideal to guide my thinking ... I once saw someone talk about how important it is to be able to pass an ideological Turing test and then add, 'Of course, people often don't want to do this, because they're afraid they'll change their minds.'
  28. Kling, Arnold (2019). The Three Languages of Politics: Talking Across the Political Divides (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: Cato Institute. p. 66. ISBN   9781948647427. OCLC   1110724336. That characterization of progressives and conservatives would not pass an ideological Turing test.
  29. Matthews, Dylan (August 9, 2019). "How 'Archie Carter' hoaxed Quillette, the hoax-loving 'Intellectual Dark Web' site". Vox . Archived from the original on August 10, 2019. Retrieved May 9, 2021. I wanted to do a sort of performance art to do three things: first, ... pass the partisan Turing test; second, to do my own Sokal experiment; and third, to demonstrate why the Right is good at propaganda.
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