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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: June 2014

23 - The Education of an Economist


It has always been important for me to understand what motivates individuals to do what they do and formulate a “big picture” of how the world works. In this essay I describe the events that have impacted my life and were important for formulating my philosophy. My philosophy is no “fixed star.” I know that no one, including myself, holds the key to the “Truth,” and, to paraphrase John Maynard Keynes, I am quite willing to change my mind when the facts so dictate. In short, at the same time I am teaching, I am learning; we are all educators who are constantly being educated.

Early Life

My mother, an intellectual who was well read in philosophy, anthropology, and sociology, named me “Jeremy” (an extremely uncommon name for American boys at that time), after Jeremy Bentham, the early-nineteenth-century British philosopher, whom she greatly admired. Bentham was a progressive thinker, arguing against slavery and for women’s rights, and a utilitarian who believed that law should be structured to maximize society’s “pleasures” and minimize its “pains.” Bentham was also a believer in free markets.

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