More Friedman? Yes, even more?

Suppose you are going through a encyclopedia or a handbook trying to document yourself on the Chicago School of Economics.

You browse through the ‘monetarism’, ‘monetary history’, ‘Chicago macroeconomics’, ‘Chicago price theory’, ‘neoliberalism’, ‘Chicago methodology’, and ‘Chicago boys and Chile’ entries, all of which of course contain lengthy sections on Friedman’s works and beliefs.

In fact, you can reconstruct an exhaustive biography and bibliography from these various pieces.

Hence the two following question:

1) is there any need in such book for a specific ‘Friedman’ entry?

2) if so, what do you expect/want to find in it (although you may read my own tentative response in the formulation of the problem)?

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2 thoughts on “More Friedman? Yes, even more?

  1. Following up Harro Maas’s idea of understanding historians as curators (HES 2009), my first reaction is to have a Friedman entry in such handbook/encyclopedia volume—as it is the case with the New Palgrave, 2nd ed—, because you can piece things together in various ways. Then comes the tough following question: what to expect in it. I have no clear answer, but just a feeling that in such volumes it is customary to have a more “life achievement” approach: to try to relate somehow the different achievements, with care not to slip into a construction of a well-articulated and consistent life and work. Thus, I guess I would expect, in the case of Friedman, to see the many different Friedmans in a sensible narrative.

    1. Pedro, I totally agree with your warning not to make the life and work of economists’ appear unduly consistent. I’ve read Hacohen’s article in the HOPE volume on biography and autobiography, and he makes this case in a compelling manner.

      Trouble is, Friedman seems to be an exception. Wherever I looked in his writings and archives, whoever he is talking to (Chicago colleagues or opponents economists, political figures or incensed Newsweek readers), I found the same Friedman, one extraordinarily consistent in his methodological and substantial views (I mean, time and audience consistent,which does not precludes inner contradictions between some of his claims. It’s more a general impression, a contrast to other figures I have encountered).

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