The Mystery of Money
May 31-June 4, 2016
What is money and what kinds of purposes does, can, and should it serve? We will explore the fundamental principles of social order through the lens of competing theories of money. Among economists, historians, and philosophers there is no agreement about the origin and nature of money. Some theorists argue that money is always legal tender, the creation of states, while others insist that money arises spontaneously as a generalized medium of exchange. These debates about money reflect deeper disagreements about the nature of society. Our readings will include seminal works by Aristotle, Smith, Menger, Simmel, Mises, Hayek, Keynes, and others. The seminar is open to advanced undergraduates (including graduating seniors) and graduate students with interests in moral philosophy, politics, sociology, and economics.