All in the Game: Free Will Viewed Through the Prism of The Wire

This guest post was written by Abe Nelson ’14.

“If you knew he was going to rob the pot why even let him in the game?” –– McNulty

“Got to, man. This is America.” –– The Witness

The notions of moral responsibility and, by extension, free will are baked into our everyday interactions. From parents scolding toddlers to judicial sentences, it is assumed that when someone acts unjustly, they can and should be held morally responsible. However, the gnawing feeling that perhaps humans’ actions are determined or driven by external forces beyond their control has long plagued philosophers. It also influenced David Simon’s seminal television program, The Wire. Continue reading

Having the Wrong Debate the Wrong Way

In business, it’s one thing to be bad at a job that has to exist, or to be good at a job that doesn’t need to exist, but it’s hard to justify keeping a worker who is bad at a job that shouldn’t exist.

On a slightly related note, that’s kind of how I feel about the recent escalation of rhetoric around Israel/Palestine that seems to be limited to the Peirce atrium. Continue reading

Austan Goolsbee: DC’s Funniest Celebrity on Capital, College, and… Carp?

Austan Gooslbee is the former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Obama. He is currently the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. His earlier email interview with the Observer can be found here. Continue reading

CSAD: Interview with Neera Tanden

Neera Tanden is the President of the Center for American Progress. Before working at the Center, she was the policy director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and the domestic policy director for President Obama’s 2008 campaign. Continue reading

CSAD: Robert Putnam’s Highly Anticipated Talk

Kenyon shelled out thousands of dollars to have Robert Putnam launch the busiest day of CSAD’s biennial conference on Thursday, and ultimately, that was money well spent. Putnam offered a charismatic mix of anecdotal and quantitative evidence, but most importantly, he demonstrated genuine enthusiasm for solving the problem of economic inequality during a conference where “soft” factors like passion can get lost in academic noise. Continue reading

CSAD: Inequality and the Market with Austan Goolsbee

Late in his speech, Professor Austan Goolsbee admitted that economists, as a profession, have historically lacked either “great emotions or people skills”. Yet coming from Goolsbee, the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at U Chicago’s Booth School of Business, this assertion seemed a little disingenuous: his discussion of inequality and the market stood out for both its energy and its humor, which remained constant as he approached topics ranging from education reform to entitlement programs and how they all tied back to the problems of economic inequality in America today. Continue reading

CSAD: Global Perspectives on Inequality

As part of the Center for the Study of American Democracy’s conference this week, students and faculty were treated to a panel discussion from Branko Milanovic, Ben White and Charles Horner (see here for our interview with Horner). Milanovic is a Serbian economist specializing on inequality and development who is currently a visiting professor at City University of New York, White is an alumnus from the class of ’94 and Politico correspondent, and Horner is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute specializing on Chinese views of that country’s development. Continue reading