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Deirdre N. McCloskey
Distinguished Professor of Economics and of History Emerita, and Professor Emerita of English and of Communication, at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Summary

Deirdre N. McCloskey has been since 2015 UIC Distinguished Professor of Economics and of History Emerita, and Professor Emerita of English and of Communication, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Trained at Harvard as an economist, she has written twenty-five books and edited seven more, and has published some four hundred articles on economic theory, economic history, philosophy, rhetoric, feminism, ethics, politics, gender studies, and law. She taught for twelve years in Economics at the University of Chicago, and describes herself now as a “postmodern, free-market, quantitative, literary, Episcopalian, feminist Aristotelian.” Her books in the 2000s and 2010s included The Cult of Statistical Significance: How the Standard Error Costs Us Jobs, Justice, and Lives (with Stephen Ziliak; U. of Michigan Press, 2008) and her Bourgeois Era trilogy (U. of Chicago Press, 2006, 2010, 2016). Most reticently, into the 2020s:  Why Liberalism Works (Yale U. Press, 2019), Leave Me Alone and I’ll Make You Rich (with Art Carden; U. of Chicago Press, 2020), The Myth of the Entreprenruial State (with Alberto Mingardi; Adam Smith Institute and AIER, 2020); and a trilogy of three sets of her shorter works, as “impromptus” published by the AIER on history (2020), economics (2020), and liberalism (2021).  Before the Bourgeois Era her best-known books were a trilogy on the rhetoric and philosophy of economics (1985 [1998], 1980, 1984), and Crossing: A Memoir (U. of Chicago Press, 1999; reissued with an Afterword 2019), a New York Times Notable Book.

Her earlier scientific work was been on economic history, especially British. Her book Bourgeois Equality is a study of Dutch and British economic and social history. She has written on British economic "failure" in the 19th century, trade and growth in the 19th century, open field agriculture in the middle ages, the Gold Standard, and the Industrial Revolution. In the Bourgeois Era trilogy she broadened her scope to explaining the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. making an “ideational” claim of liberalism causing “innovism,” against the materialist theories of accumulation or exploitation, and against neo-institutionalism.

Her philosophical books include The Rhetoric of Economics (U. of Wisconsin Press 1st ed. 1985; 2nd ed. 1998), If You're So Smart: The Narrative of Economic Expertise (U. of Chicago Press 1990), and Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics (Cambridge U. Press 1994),, and a pair of books in 2021 from the U. of Chicago Press: Bettering Humanomics: A New and Old Approach to Economic Science and  Beyond Positivism, Behaviorism, and Neo-Institutionalism in Economics. All of them, the early trilogy and the late duo, concern the maladies of social scientific positivism, the epistemological limits of a future social science, and the promise of a rhetorically sophisticated philosophy of science. In her later work she has turned to ethics and to a philosophical-historical apology for, and criticism of, modern economies, leading to a quantitative but humanistic “humanomics.”