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Beyond the Invisible Hand: The History of Economic Thought

Semester and Year FA 2016
Course Number IDSEM-UG1337
Section 001
Instructor Kimberly Phillips-Fein
Days MW
Time 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Units 4
Level U
Foundation Requirement   SOC



What is the economy, and how did it come to be understood as a separate, discrete realm of society, so unique that it demands its own academic discipline? How have philosophers understood the basic problems of economics—production, labor, coercion, risk, leisure, desire, self-realization, and the constraints of the material world—over time? Contemporary economics is modeled to a great extent on the hard sciences, and claims to reveal the universal laws that underlie the immense complexity of economic life. The economy, however, is itself a historical and political realm, shaped in fundamental ways by human choices, and the very way that people think about and try to make sense of the economy is influenced by historical circumstance. In this course, we will read and analyze works of economic philosophy and literature in order to understand the variety of ways that people have looked at economic life. Readings may include Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Friedrich Hayek.

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)