The fifteen essays in this collection, first published in 1947, treat a variety of economic, social, political, and philosophical problems and were written by a legendary professor of economics at the University of Chicago.
Professor Knight (1885–1972) wrote from the viewpoint of ethics as well as economics. His own words best describe his objective in this book: ""The basic principle of science—truth or objectivity—is essentially a moral principle. . . . The presuppositions of objectivity are integrity, competence, humility. . . . All coercion is absolutely excluded in favor of free meeting of free minds."
Frank Knight was a thinker of the first importance and never more pertinent than he is in these years. The depths of his insights and his trenchant formulations might serve to weaken some of the prejudices of the present age. That is something to be fervently desired. Whether or not this republication can succeed in doing so, does not diminish the gratitude which is due to Liberty Fund for having reprinted this invaluable work, the value of which is enhanced by Professor Buchanan's vivid characterization of Frank Knight in his foreword.
— Edward Shils, University of Chicago
Frank H. Knight
Frank Hyneman Knight (1885-1972) - was the dominant intellectual influence in the Department of Economics at The University of Chicago during the formative years of the distinctive approach to economic analysis identified with Chicago Economics, An economist by training and a philosopher/historian by inclination, Knight spent his career opposing the efforts of progressives, institutionalists, Keynesians, and Christians who advocated social control in the name of science and/or morality. Liberal society, he believed, was always in danger from those who claimed to know what was best for society on either moral or scientific grounds. (Social scientists, he found, often were moralists and scientists simultaneously!) What liberal society required was ongoing vigilance to protect the never-ending nature of its discussion, and wise guides to maintain the discussion's quality. While knowledge of the core of economic theory was a necessary ingredient for intelligent discussion, ultimately economics played a small role in Knight's understanding of a well-functioning liberal society.
The "Grand Old Man" of Chicago, Frank H. Knight was one of the century's most eclectic economists and perhaps the deepest thinker and scholar American economics has produced. Jointly with Jacob Viner, Knight presided over the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago from the 1920s to the late 1940s, and played a central role in setting the character of that department that was perhaps only comparable to Schumpeter's tenure over Harvard or Robbins's at the L.S.E.
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