Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Book Clubs

Starting in mid-January, the following is a partial list of some of the books I want to cover in the next few months if people are interested in sparing a few hours off-campus. Recent sessions included Theory of Justice, Animal Spirits, The Politics, Theory of Moral Sentiments and Nudge. Michael Collins in TCD got me into the habit of doing these and they have been a fantastic source of intellectual inspiration over the last few years. Sessions have ranged from two people to 20, but it is really immaterial how many people actually attend. It is also irrelevant whether everyone has read the book being discussed. It is important that one person has read it carefully to moderate things (feel free to volunteer but am more than happy to cover the ones listed below).

1. Robert Nozick is practically a household name due to Anarchy, State and Utopia and I would like to cover this, given that Theory of Justice was covered previously. However, a book that has substantial relevance to our discussions and research here is the 1993 work "The Nature of Rationality". The wiki description is here Among other things, the work contains novel solutions to the Prisoner's Dilemma, discussions of how principles can reduce discounting and enable life-time utility maximisation, ideas on the adapability of incorporating sunk costs and a substantial number of other ideas.

2. Hayek "The Road to Serfdom". A shame we have not yet covered this. Various versions available through the links on the wiki page. I will get a copy of the definitive version. Readers digest version here

3. Jon Elster's books have been a revelation to me over the years. Brilliantly lucid discussions of core issues at the intersection of economics, philosophy and psychology. His work on emotions and self-restraint are particularly interesting to behavioural economics. His classic work Ulysses and The Sirens is one of the most cited books in behavioural economics and completely gripping.

4. Robert Putnam. "Bowling Alone". Again, already a classic work that placed the concept of Social Capital on the agenda of many national and international policy agencies. My copy currently rests somewhere in the North of Ireland, as I gave it to a football manager a few years back after giving a talk on sport and social capital to the Ulster GAA association, in between talks by the President of the GAA and the DUP Minister for Sport. The book has received a lot of attention in Ireland over the years and it still has a strong life in current debates.


Martin Ryan said...

You also mentioned Hyman Minsky recently Liam; another one to bear in mind perhaps.

Liam Delaney said...

Stephen Kinsella is going to do a session on this in February. I will post up a time.