Top 10 Books

There’s a meme going around about top 10 books that have influenced your personal philosophical views. Here are mine:

(1) A Treatise on Human Nature [David Hume]

Made me an empiricist.

(2) On Liberty [J.S. Mill]

The power of the marketplace of ideas. How and why exactly does liberty apply to welfare?

(3) A Theory of Justice [John Rawls]

The best account of our intuitions about justice to date.

(4) The Descent of Man [Charles Darwin]

How should we think about moral personhood? Why should we give special consideration to humans?

(5) The Selfish Gene [Richard Dawkins]

Tremendously influenced my understanding of culture and cultural evolution.

(6) The Republic [Plato]

The groundwork for the whole of political philosophy.

(7) Groundwork on the Metaphysics of Morals [Immanuel Kant]

How should we treat persons? What moral considerations are there aside from consequences?

(8) Utilitarianism [J.S. Mill]

Still the best arguments for the most powerful, i.e., influential theory of morality.

(9) New Foundations of Cost-Benefit Analysis [Matthew Adler & Eric Posner]

Convincingly made the case, in my view, for operationalizing utilitarianism in economics. This book was, and still is, the basis for nearly all my thinking about public policy issues.

(10) Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy, and Public Policy [Daniel Hausman & Michael McPherson]

How does our ethical understanding influence economic theory and guide us in making decisions of public policy? What are the philosophical foundations for welfare economics?


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