Tag Archives: bourgeois dignity

More praise for McCloskey’s books

Peter Boettke

“Many years ago I reviewed her How to Be Human, Though an Economist. I concluded that review with words that continue to right [sic] true to me about McCloskey’s overwhelming achievement as a person, an intellectual and as a scholar of economics, history, politics, and social philosophy.

Praise is due to Deirdre McCloskey for the work she has done and continues to do on behalf of reinvigorating the scholarly vocation in economics. She is a bold and courageous individual, a champion of intellectual integrity and effective comunication, and – it just so happens – a damn good economist, historian, and social philosopher.”

—Peter Boettke, “McCloskey on Bourgeois Dignity,” 14 Dec. 2010.

Peter Boettke calls Bourgeois Dignity a “joyous intellectual adventure.”

Peter Boettke of George Mason University at the blog Coordination Problem writes

not for weekend reading, but longer periods of sustained effort of study [is a] book that I received this past week and I have only dipped into, but I am overwhelmingly impressed with, . . . Deirdre McCloskey’s Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World (Chicago, 2010). The fact that I am so enamored with McCloskey’s project should not be a surprise to anyone who read my review of the first volume in this series. I will be reviewing this book as well for Economic Affairs. The experience of reading McCloskey is a joyous one because you get to encounter a first-rate mind, who is skillful at the use of words, and who possesses an amazing grasp of history (both factual and intellectual). I have read various forms of this new book in draft, but am very excited to read the finished project. A joyous intellectual adventure.

Atlas Network selects Bourgeois Dignity as #1 book of 2010. Who voted?



  • Alberto Mingardi is the general Director of the Bruno Leoni Institute.
  • André Azevedo Alves is a political scientist at Universidade Católica Portuguesa.
  • Donald Boudreaux is professor of Economics at George Mason University
  • Edward Crane is the founder and president of the Cato Institute.
  • Fred Smith is the president and founder of Competitive Enterprise Institute.
  • Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and Editor of Cato Unbound.
  • John Blundell is a director of the International Policy Network and Chairman of the Institute Development and Relations Committee of the board of Atlas Economic Research Foundation.
  • Jude Blanchette is a member of the Institute Relations team at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Asia.
  • Marius Gustavson is a Sound Money Fellow at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and an Economic Policy Research Fellow at the Reason Foundation.
  • Matt Zwolinski is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Diego.
  • Michael Munger is a Professor of Economics, Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University.
  • Nouh El Harmouzi is the editor of MinbaralHurriyya.org(Arabic).
  • Pedro Albuquerque is an economist, associate professor at Euromed Management and author of the blog Incentives Matter.
  • Peter Boettke is the Deputy Director of the James M. Buchanan Center for Political Economy, a Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center, and a professor in the economics department at George Mason University
  • Tom Palmer is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, director of the Institute's educational division, Cato University, Vice President for International Programs at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.
  • Virginia Postrel is the author of The Substance of Style and The Future and Its Enemies. She writes a column on commerce and culture for The Wall Street Journal's Saturday "Review” section and is writing a book on glamour for The Free Press. She edits a group blog at DeepGlamour.net.


Bourgeois Dignity, Russia, and modernization

See “Taking Care of Business,” Craig Pirrong (1 Jan 2011).


If there is anything to Deirdre McCloskey's Bourgeois Dignity hypothesis — and I think there is, although I am not totally convinced — Russia is not fertile soil for modernization because of the widespread hostility towards entrepreneurial -– ”bourgeois” — values and enterprise.

Looking forward to Bourgeois Dignity: Notes from November ’09

From Julie Kirsten Novak’s blog, Free Market Liberal, 16 November 2009:

The American economic historian and all-round champion of free markets, Deirdre McCloskey, has written a follow-up volume to her 2006 masterpiece, The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce (no less an authority in economics, Peter Boettke, said this about The Bourgeois Virtues: “Deirdre McCloskey has written what must be acclaimed as the most ambitious book in political economy published in over half a century (perhaps a full century). It is not only ambitious, but it is absolutely brilliant.”).

The follow-up volume, called Bourgeois Dignity and Liberty: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World, is currently under review by University of Chicago Press. Based on extracts and related working papers (such as this), the central thesis of McCloskey’s latest effort is that the observed explosion of economic growth and market productivity in the West over the past two centuries or so are the product of changing social values – viz. a growing dignity and honour accorded to the merchants and inventors who offer their wares to the consumer sovereign.

To be sure, McCloskey’s idea is along the lines of observations made by philosophers of times past. In his tenth philosophical letter on commerce, Voltaire said the following: “the younger son of a peer is not disdainful of commerce. Lord Townshend, a minister of state, has a brother who is content to be a London merchant. At the time when Milord Oxford governed England, his younger brother was a business agent in Aleppo, whence he did not wish to return and where he died.”

If my reading of McCloskey is correct, such anecdotal examples of rescinding the luxuries of peerage in eighteenth-century England could not have come about if the values of “dignity to take ones place and the liberty to venture” (as McCloskey describes it) did not start to take hold in the economic realm.

The thesis that McCloskey brings to the fore is certainly very interesting, worthy of attention and of critical thought (including juxtaposed with Gregory Clark’s ideas about the industrial revolution). For these reasons, I cannot wait to get a hold of Bourgeois Dignity and Liberty when it is published.

Bourgeois Dignity readers hail from various disciplines