Vernon Smith’s Foreward to Propriety and Prosperity: New Studies on the Philosophy of Adam Smith

Here is the opening paragraph to Vernon’s Foreward to Propriety and ProsperityI would urge anyone interested in situated cognition to read his superb Rationality in Economics: Constructivist and Ecological Forms amazingly an unknown classic to those of an externalist non-Cartesian persuasion. Also worth a read is Vernon’s memoir.


This book is a welcome addition to the resurgent scholarly and practical interest in Adam Smith’s contributions to market economics and its antecedents in the social order of human culture. In Smith, propriety concerned the rules that govern human sociability by mutual consent in local group interactions. Out of this experience were fashioned the rules of property, justice and the liberal order of political economy, and thence to economic prosperity. It is a grand narrative alive with meaning for the contemporary world in which side-by-side with markets the demand for sociability has found new expression in the social media companies. No wonder that in a seminar Kenneth Boulding could refer to Adam Smith as the first great post-Newtonian scientist.

Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science

Here’s an interesting paper co-authored by Jonathan Haidt. Also, here is a good accompanying article in The New Yorker. The problem though with all the discussion is that the terms “conservative” and “liberal” and their supposed practical politics correlates “Republican” and “Democrat” are meaningless. When push comes to shove, self-ascribed or pejorative usage of these terms, flounder. People invoke these labels as if necessary and sufficient conditions can be specified, oblivious to what Michael Freeden called ideological morphology, something Percy understood. As I repeatedly say, epistemology not ideology.