Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Ronald H. Coase

The bio below comes from a published article and may now be dated.

Ronald H. Coase

Ronald Coase (1910–2013) was a British economist who became Clifton R. Musser Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Law School. He received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1991. He beseeched us to take responsibility for the total effect of our action, which, if spelling the governmentalization of social affairs, meant facing up to the downsides of governmentalization. He wrote two essays on Adam Smith, one focused on The Wealth of Nations, the other The Theory of Moral Sentiments. The latter ends with these words: “Adam Smith would not have thought it sensible to treat man as a rational utility-maximiser. He thinks of man as he actually is—dominated, it is true, by self-love but not without some concern for others, able to reason but not necessarily in such a way as to reach the right conclusion, seeing the outcomes of his actions but through a veil of self-delusion. No doubt modern psychologists have added a great deal, some of it correct, to this eighteenth century view of human nature. But if one is willing to accept Adam Smith’s view of man as containing, if not the whole truth, at least a large part of it, realisation that his thought has a much broader foundation than is commonly assumed makes his argument for economic freedom more powerful and his conclusions more persuasive.”