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Knowledge and Coordination: A Liberal Interpretation [Hardcover]

Daniel Klein

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Book Description

16 Feb 2012
Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek saw the liberty principle as focal and accorded it strong presumption. But their wisdom invokes how little we can know. In Knowledge and Coordination, Daniel Klein re-examines the elements of economic liberalism. He interprets Hayek's notion of spontaneous order from the aestheticized perspective of a Smithian spectator, real or imagined. Klein addresses issues economists have had surrounding the notion of coordination by distinguishing the concatenate coordination of Hayek, Ronald Coase, and Michael Polanyi from the mutual coordination of Thomas Schelling and game theory. Clarifying the meaning of cooperation, he resolves debates over whether entrepreneurial innovation enhances or upsets coordination, and thus interprets entrepreneurship in terms of discovery, or new knowledge. Beyond information, knowledge entails interpretation and judgment, emergent from tacit reaches of the "society of mind," itself embedded in actual society. Rejecting homo economicus in favor of the "deepself," Klein offers a distinctive formulation of knowledge economics, entailing asymmetric interpretation, judgment, entrepreneurship, error, and correction-and kinds of discovery-which all serve the cause of liberty. This richness of knowledge joins agent and analyst, and meaningful theory depends on tacit affinities between the two. Knowledge and Coordination highlights the recurring connections to underlying purposes and sensibilities, of analysts as well as agents. Behind economic talk of market communication and social error and correction lies Klein's Smithian allegory, with the allegorical spectator representing a conception of the social. Knowledge and Coordination instructs us to declare such allegory. Knowledge and Coordination is an authoritative take on how, by confessing the looseness of its judgments and the by-and-large status of its claims, laissez-faire liberalism makes its economic doctrines more robust and its presumption of liberty more viable.

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"The best book on Smithian economics, or for that matter Austrian economics, in many years."--Tyler Cowen, author of Discover Your Inner Economist and Create Your Own Economy"A profound, brilliant book that returns Adam Smith to the centre of the classical liberal worldview. It should provoke a paradigm shift among classical liberals and libertarians."--Sam Bowman, AdamSmith.org"Daniel Klein is one of those original thinkers that stands him out from the crowd of overly-safe players who dominate in academe... His recent thinking, expressed in his new book, Knowledge and Coordination: A Liberal Interpretation, is typical of his, on and beyond the frontier of accepted doctrine."--Gavin Kennedy, author of Adam Smith: A Moral Philosopher and His Political Economy, and Adam Smith's Lost Legacy"Klein seeks to show that the best in economics from Marx and Mill to Hayek and Samuelson is 'Smithian'--that is, humanistic and scientific, historical and analytic, sympathetic and impartial, and above all 'liberal' in the root sense, suited to a free human. He succeeds brilliantly."--Deirdre McCloskey, author of Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce and The Cult of Statistical Significance"Some books explain and defend principles with clear formulations and precise analysis; some books illustrate principles with vivid examples. Knowledge and Coordination does both. It is an engaging narrative exploring Adam Smithian spontaneous order that is enriched by genuine economic analysis, framed by personal history, and punctuated by compelling examples. It somehow manages to combine a plausible reinterpretation of Smith with an integration of Smith's insights into contemporary economic thought, while maintaining the reader's interest with fascinating stories and allusions from numerous sources. Klein has accomplished what some might have thought impossible: He has told a story about economics that is humane, compelling, enlightening--and interesti

About the Author

Daniel B. Klein is Professor of Economics at George Mason University, and Associate Fellow at the Ratio Institute in Stockholm. He is the creator and chief-editor of the scholarly journal Econ Journal Watch.

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