What We Are Reading Today: GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History

What We Are Reading Today: GDP: A Brief but  Affectionate History
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Updated 14 August 2020

What We Are Reading Today: GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History

What We Are Reading Today: GDP: A Brief but  Affectionate History

Author: Diane Coyle

Why did the size of the US  economy increase by 3 percent in one day in mid-2013—or Ghana’s balloon by 60 percent overnight in 2010? Why did the UK financial industry show its fastest expansion ever at the end of 2008—just as the world’s financial system went into meltdown? And why was Greece’s chief statistician charged with treason in 2013 for apparently doing nothing more than trying to accurately report the size of his country’s economy? The answers to all these questions lie in the way we define and measure national economies around the world: Gross Domestic Product. This entertaining and informative book tells the story of GDP, making sense of a statistic that appears constantly in the news, business, and politics, and that seems to rule our lives—but that hardly anyone actually understands.
Diane Coyle traces the history of this artificial, abstract, complex, but exceedingly important statistic from its 18th- and 19th-century precursors through its invention in the 1940s and its postwar golden age, and then through the Great Crash up to today.
The reader learns why this standard measure of the size of a country’s economy was invented.
 

 


What We Are Reading Today: Hobbesian Moral and Political Theory by Gregory S. Kavka

What We Are Reading Today: Hobbesian Moral and Political Theory by Gregory S. Kavka
Updated 14 January 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Hobbesian Moral and Political Theory by Gregory S. Kavka

What We Are Reading Today: Hobbesian Moral and Political Theory by Gregory S. Kavka

In recent years serious attempts have been made to systematize and develop the moral and political themes of great philosophers of the past.

Kant, Locke, Marx, and the classical utilitarians all have their current defenders and arc taken seriously as expositors of sound moral and political views.

It is the aim of this book to introduce Hobbes into this select group by presenting a plausible moral and political theory inspired by Leviathan.

Using the techniques of analytic philosophy and elementary game theory, the author develops a Hobbesian argument that justifies the liberal State and reconciles the rights and interests of rational individuals with their obligations.

Hobbes’s case against anarchy, based on his notorious claim that life outside the political State would be a “war of all against all,” is analyzed in detail, while his endorsement of the absolutist State is traced to certain false hypotheses about political sociology.

With these eliminated, Hobbes’s principles support a liberal redistributive (or “satisfactory”) State and a limited right of revolution.

Turning to normative issues, the book explains Hobbes’s account of morality based on enlightened self-interest and shows how the Hobbesian version of social contract theory justifies the political obligations of citizens of satisfactory States.