From a bestselling author and economist, a contemporary moral case for economic growth—and a dose of inspiration and optimism about our future possibilities.
Growth is good. Throughout history, economic growth in particular has alleviated human misery, improved human happiness and opportunity, and lengthened human lives. Wealthier societies are more stable, offer better living standards, produce better medicines, and ensure greater autonomy, greater fulfillment, and more sources of fun. If we want to continue our trend of growth—and the overwhelmingly positive outcomes for societies that come with it—every individual must become more concerned with the welfare of those around us. So how do we proceed?
Tyler Cowen, in a culmination of 20 years of thinking and research, provides a roadmap for moving forward. In Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals, he argues that our reason and common sense can help free us of the faulty ideas that hold us back as people and as a society, allowing us to set our sights on the long-term struggles that maximize sustainable economic growth while respecting human rights. Stubborn Attachments, at its heart, makes the contemporary moral case for economic growth, and delivers a great dose of inspiration and optimism about our future possibilities.
Wealth makes the world go round Overcoming disagreement Is time a moral illusion? What about redistribution?
Must uncertainty paralyze us?
Conclusion: Where have we landed? Appendix A Appendix B References
Tyler Cowen is a Holbert L. Harris professor of economics at George Mason University and director of the Mercatus Center. He received his PhD in economics from Harvard University in 1987. His book The Great Stagnation: How America Ate the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better was a New York Times bestseller. He was named one of the most influential economists of the last decade in an Economist poll and dubbed “America’s hottest economist” by Bloomberg Businessweek. Foreign Policy magazine named him as one of its top 100 global thinkers of 2011. Cowen co-writes a blog called Marginal Revolution, runs a podcast series called Conversations with Tyler, and has cofounded an online economics education project at MRUniversity. He lives in Virginia.
“Is it possible to develop a sociopolitical philosophy that is believable, robust to human error and biases, and sensitive to the tradeoffs demanded by competing values? Tyler Cowen sets himself nothing short of this very task in Stubborn Attachments. Most of Tyler s books will change how you see the world in myriad of small ways. Stubborn Attachments might well change how you see the world in one very big way. Integrating ideas from across the social sciences, Tyler argues that we
should regard the livelihoods of our future descendants including those distant descendants we ll never get to meet as highly as we regard our own. Our political choices should reflect this basic intertemporal egalitarianism. And economic growth, with its magnificent compounding benefits, thus deserves greater consideration as a high moral virtue. Whether you agree or disagree, I think you ll find that following the
logic in Stubborn Attachments is as fun as it is intellectually provocative.”
—Cardiff Garcia, cohost of the NPR podcast, The Indicator from Planet Money
“Tyler Cowen is a national treasure, and Stubborn Attachments
is brimming with deep insights about the immense importance of economic
growth, moral obligations, rights, and how to think about the future.
It's a book for right now, and a book for all times. A magnificent
—Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University, and author of The Cost-Benefit Revolution
is a deeply honest accounting of what matters, and the process by which
we can determine what matters. Assumptions are laid bare from the
outset, counter-claims are provided. The book invites you to fight it.”
—Mason Hartman, webdevMason
"Tyler Cowen is one of the most intriguing and
eclectic thinkers on the planet—like many people, I read something by
him every day. In Stubborn Attachments he combines economics and philosophy in a truly important achievement. His best, most ambitious and most personal work.” —Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist