Category: Philosophy

It is a cherished belief, in all Objectivist as well as certain fellow-traveling circles, that economic interventionism must collapse under its own weight. Here, for instance, is Ludwig von Mises, in Planned Chaos: Many advocates of interventionism are bewildered when one tells them that in recommending interventionism they themselves are fostering antidemocratic and dictatorial tendencies […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted August 1, 2007 @ 10:25 AM | Philosophy,Politics

Brian Doherty’s Radicals for Capitalism is a comprehensive, highly entertaining history of libertarianism with too many points of interest — Murray Rothbard’s solution to the free rider problem (“so what?”), Milton Friedman’s sterling character, The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Deontologist — to deal with in a single post. Instead I want to talk about […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted March 13, 2007 @ 7:08 PM | Heuristic,Literature

Albert Hirschman has many fans at the arbiter of all things serious, Crooked Timber. Tyler Cowen, in one of his fitful attempts to shore up his left-wing cred, praised Hirschman as deserving of the Nobel Prize in Economics and The Rhetoric of Reaction as “a brilliant study in intellectual self-deception.” Good enough! I ordered up […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted December 23, 2006 @ 2:45 PM | Philosophy

If I could require every American schoolchild of normal intelligence to read one book, it would be George Pólya’s How To Solve It. (Second choice is Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. I keep extra copies of both books on hand to give away as necessary.) Pólya was born in Hungary and taught mathematics at […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted November 22, 2006 @ 4:36 PM | Heuristic

I’m a betting man, and yesterday I was offered a betting proposition. The U.S. Bridge Championships are going on now, and the great Nickell team, which has won the event eight years running, has a bye to the semifinals. My friend Justin Lall, a bridge pro, offered me 6:1 odds on $50 on the field: […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted August 26, 2006 @ 5:07 PM | Heuristic

Possibly the most annoying truth in the world is that good qualities cluster. People who are good at something tend to be good at many things. The psychometric version of clustering is g, or general intelligence. The existence of g is not seriously disputed in the field, and g-deniers like Howard Gardner, with his theory […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted August 22, 2006 @ 1:16 AM | Philosophy

Brian: I’m not the messiah. Acolyte: Only the true messiah would deny that he was the messiah! Brian: OK. I’m the messiah. Mob: He’s the messiah! He’s the messiah! –Life of Brian Guy’s out walking in Manhattan when he sees a street vendor selling unmarked aerosol cans. He’s curious and asks what’s in them, and […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted July 19, 2005 @ 11:46 PM | Philosophy

After months of diligent study I have finally become the person you edge away from at parties. At the last one I attended I began, after a few drinks, to dilate on alpha theory as usual. One of the guests suggested that I become a prophet for a new cult, which was certainly a lucky […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted February 13, 2005 @ 12:28 PM | Alpha Theory,Philosophy

Humans have suffered three thousand years of philosophy now, and it’s time we took stock. Explanations. A successful explanation decomposes a complex question into its constituent parts. You ask why blood is bright red in the air and the arteries and darker red in the veins. I tell you that arterial blood has more oxygen, […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted August 12, 2004 @ 10:56 PM | Alpha Theory,Philosophy

An old joke has a grocer trying to explain business ethics to his son. “Suppose a lady comes into the store,” he says, “buys two dollars worth of merchandise, pays with a fifty, and leaves, forgetting to take her change. Here’s where business ethics comes in: do you, or do you not, tell your partner?” […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted April 28, 2004 @ 7:43 PM | Business,Philosophy