Liberal Arts

Economics – Law – Philosophy – etc.

Christianity by Continent

August 3, 2008 | 8 comments
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I recently read Martin Marty’s The Christian World: A Global History (2007). The subtitle is slightly misleading, as Marty recounts Christian history on a continent-by-continent basis. The last two chapters, covering the modern return of Christianity to Africa and Asia, raise issues of particular interest to the LDS experience: correlation and assimilation. Read more »

Death and Doctrine

July 29, 2008 | 39 comments
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I have an uneasy relationship with death. Read more »

Modern Responses to the Problem of Evil

July 19, 2008 | 25 comments
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In a previous post I summarized biblical explanations for the problem of evil or the existence of suffering in the world as presented in Bart Ehrman’s latest book, God’s Problem. In this post I’ll continue with additional explanations from modern and LDS sources. Read more »

Why We Suffer

July 6, 2008 | 53 comments
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I recently finished Bart D. Ehrman’s latest book, God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question–Why We Suffer (HarperCollins, 2008). Like all Ehrman’s books, it is both informative and troubling. Read more »

Korihor and the United States Reports

July 1, 2008 | 40 comments
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Let’s read the Book of Mormon as a commentary on American constitutional law and vice versa. Alma 30:7-10 reads: Read more »

McCain and the Revelatory Economist

June 26, 2008 | 16 comments
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Bloomberg reports the following from McCain about economists who criticized his (lunatic) summer gas plan: Read more »

Moral Hazard in the Scriptures

May 23, 2008 | 16 comments
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For those hoping to find more economics in their scripture study… Read more »

Shortage and storage

May 7, 2008 | 38 comments
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With the recent spike in food prices, a three year old post demands new life. Here it is: Clearly, were there to be a famine, a one year food supply in the basement would look really good. What may be slightly less obvious is that the presence of food storage, even if nobody ever uses any of it for an emergency, can stop a famine from ever actually happening. Read more »

Coase on Abortion

January 23, 2008 | 27 comments
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Estimates suggest that, on average, Americans behave as if they value a year of their life at, more or less, $100,000. This would put an average American life at a “revealed preferred” value of somewhere around $7 million. Read more »

Religious Pragmatism

December 23, 2007 | 6 comments
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Oliver Wendell Holmes famously wrote, “The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.” In various writings, he expanded that claim, contrasting a natural law approach to justifying legal and ethical rules of conduct with his own more modest approach rooted in history and experience and falling under the broad perspective labeled pragmatism. Since religion in general and Mormonism in particular have many rules of conduct for which a variety of justifications grounded in natural law, experience, and history are held out, Holmes’ approach may shed some light on how we do this. Read more »

Summer Seminar update

August 8, 2007 | no comments
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For those interested in the BYU summer seminar, I’ve revised the post, adding the titles of and abstracts for the papers. Read more »

BYU Summer Seminar

August 6, 2007 | 11 comments
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The annual summer symposium, this year “Joseph Smith and His Times,” will be held on Thursday, August 9, 2007. The symposium will feature papers by twelve summer seminar fellows on the theme “Mormon Thinkers, 1890-1930,” covering topics ranging from the influence of Herbert Spencer on Mormon thought to Mormonism and Modernity. Read more »

Economics and the Vicious Dating Scene

April 24, 2007 | 13 comments
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Diminishing Returns: Once things start going downhill, bail. Increasing Returns: It can only get better. Read more »

Markets and Consumer Activism

April 11, 2007 | 56 comments
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With fair regularity, one hears someone talking of efforts to buy less of some commercial product, either out of a desire for global conservation or because he doesn’t like how it is produced or whatever. Invariably, he comments that his own effect on the market is small, but he wishes to “send a message” or help along some broader movement. Within a plausible model of markets. there are easily understood conditions under which this small effect is actually zero, and remains zero even if he is joined by many like-minded individuals. At which point one wonders if the “message”... Read more »

Why a Second Coming?

February 22, 2007 | 25 comments
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It might seem that there are few Hegelians in the world today. Read more »

Preserving the Veil from Survey Data

February 6, 2007 | 49 comments
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Suppose I find that being Mormon raises income, makes your children nicer, and does all sorts of wonderful things. In fact, suppose God blessed every person who converted instantly and spectacularly with beautiful hair and perfect teeth. Read more »

Science and Nihilism

December 17, 2006 | 45 comments
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Read more »

Santa-god and the Second Naivete

November 27, 2006 | 58 comments
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I spent all of September and a good part of October finishing an essay on community for a journal on the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, and it nearly killed me. Read more »

Fixing the Minimum Wage

November 9, 2006 | 153 comments
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It seems pretty clear that we are heading for a hike in the minimum wage. For the many of us who care about poverty reduction, which would be basically all of us, this could be a big deal. The problems with the minimum wage are that it: Read more »

The Opportunity Cost of Publishing

October 25, 2006 | 16 comments
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In this excellent post, Rosalynde talks about the gender differences in subject material among Deseret Book writers. This renews the discussion brought up by Taryn Nelson-Seawright on the same difference existing in other Mormon outlets. Explanations abound for this phenomena, ranging from differing preferences to piggy discrimination, but most of them are sort of boring. Here’s one that is at least slightly more interesting: Read more »

Why Europeans look lazy

September 13, 2006 | 71 comments
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It is a well established fact that Europeans perform vastly less formal market work than Americans. A less known fact is that this is a recent development— in the late 50s, Europeans worked about 10% more hours, but this has been in steady decline for 40 years, until now they work about 30% fewer hours than Americans. Read more »

Camels, Needles, Heaven

July 26, 2006 | 36 comments
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Rich people who pay tithing are, by all accounts, still losers compared to the poor. Or, anyway, though their ten percent is a lot more money, it is money that had little effect on their life and so is not a very impressive sacrifice. Thus their salvation is put in jeapardy by diminishing marginal returns! How does the Kingdom deal with this? Read more »

How Wrong is it to Compare Yourself with Others?

July 21, 2006 | 38 comments
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A growing body of research (mine own included) in various social sciences finds that people report higher happiness levels when they do better than the people around them. Read more »

O’Dea’s The Mormons Part II: The Edited Volume Retrospective

July 17, 2006 | 3 comments
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The Mormon Social Science Association, under the direction of editors John Hoffman, Cardell Jacobsen, and Tim Heaton of BYU’s Department of Sociology, is currently putting together a volume of essays that retrospectively assess O’Dea’s 1957 classic The Mormons. Read more »