What is Education For?

STEM often (at the undergraduate level) teaches a certain type of thinking, which is a very effective and practical way to solve problems. STEM fields seek answers, while the humanities focus first on training students to ask the correct questions, and to take an extremely broad view of any problem. A lot of damage has been done by narrow, practical solutions. The technology we have is an engineering marvel, and the economic abundance we possess is a tribute to the efficiency of solving practical problems. And yet for all our abundance we still have massive poverty and environmental degradation, as well as a society that is becoming increasingly polarized, distrustful, and distant.

Race in the US

I do not know what happened between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. No one does. A great deal, however, is known about race in the United States. If, as media reports continue to say, this case raises questions and starts a discussion about race then surely the place to start is with those who have already been asking and answering questions about race for a long time. There is a vast academic literature on the impact of race in the U.

Market Norms are Crowding out Social Norms

Imagine you are going over to a friend’s house for a nice dinner. You want to show appreciation for the lovely meal they’ve prepared for you, and you have a few options. You can offer to have them over for dinner in the future. You can bring a bottle of wine or a six pack of beer. You can simply say thank you and tell them what a lovely evening you have had.

Bible and Public Policy

I am frequently asked what Jesus has to do with public policy. It is a difficult question to answer, because Jesus didn’t live in a participatory democracy in which he could clearly let us know his stand on the political controversies of the day. He lived in an occupied land where ultimate political power rested with the Roman empire and the proximate political power was the Sanhedrin (the Jewish court) that ruled over Israel.

Moral Limits of Markets

Michael Sandel’s new book What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets is a well-timed critique not of capitalist economics, but of the spread of economic thinking well beyond the boundaries of traditional economic issues like trading, inflation, prices, wages, etc. I just started a microeconomics course in preparation for graduate school in the fall and the textbook simply defined economics as “the study of choice.” Sandel’s thesis is relatively simple: “…we drifted from having a market economy to being a market society.