Review of Jack High (ed.): Humane Economics: Essays
in honor of Don Lavoie
Howard Baetjer Jr.
Published online: 16 May 2008
Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008
Don Lavoie’s published work encompasses a wide variety of subjects—
socialism, hermeneutics, information technology and culture. At a glance, the
subjects appear unrelated, perhaps even oddly juxtaposed. What has the
impossibility of socialist calculation to do with hermeneutical philosophy or
with cultural studies? What have any of these to do with computer
programming or the Internet?
So begins Jack High’s introduction to Humane Economics: Essays in Honor of
Don Lavoie. Reading this fine book, a tribute to Don that grew out of a conference
held in his honor at George Mason University, brought me back to the questions
High raises, questions have that puzzled me and many of Don’s colleagues and
students through our fruitful associations with him. What is the connection among
those subjects? High’s introduction presents a lucid summary of the different aspects
of Lavoie’s work in a narrative of Don’s intellectual journey that is interesting in its
own right. (I found especially valuable High’s summary of the place of hermeneutics
in economics.) Nevertheless, as I read the different essays in the volume that carry
forward Don’s work in exploring these different topic areas, I found myself asking
again, can we find some single principle underlying all that Don did, and uniting his
intellectual interests with his personal values?
In rereading the essays and groping toward a coherent topic for this review, I
discovered what I think a good candidate for that unifying principle. Call it “the
Lavoie Principle”: Riches emerge in interplay; to produce riches, foster interplay.
The principle contains a statement of fact that embraces all Don’s scholarly interests,
and a corresponding guide to action that embraces his social and political values. In
what follows I shall try to relate this principle to the ideas in the book.
Rev Austrian Econ (2008) 21:349–353
H. Baetjer Jr. (*)
Department of Economics, Towson University, Towson, MD, USA