Tyler Cowen Endorses Common Sense Moderation
May 15, 2015, 04:50 PM
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From Marginal Revolution:

Why is libertarianism such a target?

by Tyler Cowen on May 12, 2015 Bryan Caplan considers this question in a very useful blog post.

If we are talking about “The Left,” the libertarian is about the most welcome intellectual opponent there is. The real scourge, correctly or not, is the common sense morality of the center. That’s right, the people who favor and distrust big government at the same time, the people who think the poor deserve welfare support but only so much, the people who distrust intellectual elites and cosmopolitanism, the people who side with police more than they ought to, and yes the people who think Medicare is more based on just deserts than is Medicaid.

That set of views does not describe me well, but the funny thing is — unlike with both far left and libertarian ideas — we do in fact know you can build a workable polity from them. The libertarians are so much more of a tempting opponent.

One of my long-term projects is to demonstrate that common sense moderation, the ability to see the logic of both sides of major arguments, to be able to synthesize theses and their antitheses, is not just some lowbrow anti-intellectual prejudice as is so widely assumed today. Nor is justified the prejudice against the handful of today’s intellectuals who have well-worked out common sense understandings of how the world actually works as either anti-intellectual morons or lunatic extremists.

Instead, this much derided line of thought represents the richest intellectual tradition in Anglo-American history. One of my long term projects is to (very slowly, unfortunately) document its roots in major American thinkers such as Franklin and Jefferson, and elucidate the interrelations among these American statesmen-intellectuals and the central British theorists such Smith, Malthus, Darwin, and Galton.