The Hayek Lecture Series, named for Nobel Laureate Friedrich A. Hayek, brings to campus lecturers from a wide variety of disciplines to engage with ideas of historical interest and contemporary relevance. The Series is sponsored on-campus by the Center and by the Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program, and is made possible by a generous grant from the Thomas W. Smith Foundation. Videos of past lectures are available for viewing by clicking on the provided links.
Use the scroll arrows or buttons below the video description to see other presentations
Ransomware has grown to epidemic proportions, having a global cost of around $30-40 billion in 2023. In this Hayek Lecture, Professor Anja Shortland of King’s College London provides a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the relationship between crime and insurance. Professor Shortland highlights the complex ways in which insurance can both create and mitigate risk, as well as the important role that governments play in supporting insurance markets and protecting the public from crime. The lecture draws from three papers: “How Crime Shapes Insurance and Insurance Shapes Crime” (2023), “Insurance and Enterprise: Cyber Insurance for Ransomware” (2022), and “The Government behind Insurance Governance: Lessons for Ransomware” (2022), written with Tom Baker.
Anja Shortland, a Professor of Political Economy at Kings College London, studies private governance in the world’s trickiest markets: hostages, fine art, antiquities, and ransomware—and how people live, trade, and invest in complex and hostile territories. Although often based on data analysis, her work usually cuts across disciplinary boundaries, adopting techniques and insights from sociology, engineering, geography, politics, international relations and economics.
1776 witnessed the publication of two of the great texts of the Enlightenment: Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and Adam Smith’s Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Scholars have often noted how Gibbon adopted economic concepts taken from Smith. My talk reverses the causal arrow to bring to the fore Smith's extensive and underappreciated engagement with Gibbon’s main political concern: the causes of the decline and fall of once-great nations. In reconstructing Smith's theory of national decline and fall, it especially focuses on Smith's seemingly paradoxical insistence on the ways in which the growth of national opulence weakens national power in ways that render a nation susceptible to both external and internal threats.
Ryan Hanley is Professor of Political Science at Boston College and a noted scholar of the political philosophy of the Enlightenment period. Among his books are Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue (Cambridge: 2009), Love’s Enlightenment: Rethinking Charity in Modernity (Cambridge, 2017) and Our Great Purpose: Adam Smith on Living a Better Life (Princeton, 2019).
The common law regularly enables both direct and collateral liability in order to put the incentive to avoid harm on the least cost avoider, even if that isn’t the person directly responsible for causing it. On the Internet, the common law was sidestepped by Section 230, which immunizes online platforms from liability for harm arising out of user-generated content. That immunity has necessarily enabled some harm to go undeterred. Nevertheless, defenders of the law often treat Section 230 with reverence, arguing that we would suffer greater harms to free speech if the law were repealed or amended. These claims invariably rest on a set of unproven assumptions. As this lecture explains, however, a more nuanced, law and economics approach reveals that some of those assumptions—regarding, for example, the social cost of increased litigation and the extent of harm to speech—may be mistaken. Curtailing collateral liability for online platforms may well be preferable, but that conclusion isn't nearly as well supported as commonly supposed.
Geoffrey A. Manne is the president and founder of the International Center for Law and Economics (ICLE), a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center based in Portland, Oregon. He is an expert in the economic analysis of law, focusing particularly on antitrust, consumer protection, telecom, IP, and technology regulation.
Economists from Adam Smith to William Stanley Jevons were preoccupied with the question of how best to achieve improvement and progress, but they differed significantly as to how best to achieve social reform. While some economists, such as John Stuart Mill, held that the devastating results of the Irish famine were caused by institutional failures—namely unreasonable land arrangements—others took issue with his analysis. The lecture documents a shift late in the nineteenth century from a “bottom up” idea of progress to a “top down” approach to social reform. In the latter case, exemplified in the works of Jevons, the economist and policymaker were to attack the “citadel of poverty” from all sides, essentially remaking the tastes and character of the laboring classes. The lecture explores how these approaches were undergirded by varied ideas of human capability, with a strong form of analytical egalitarianism underpinning the writing of Smith and Mill.
Sandra J. Peart is dean and E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Professor in Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond’s Jepson School of Leadership Studies. She obtained her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Toronto. Her recent books include The Essential John Stuart Mill (2021) and, with David Levy, Towards an Economics of Natural Equals: A Documentary History of the Early Virginia School (2020).
Moderation is a contested concept that, with few exceptions, has been absent from serious public debates. Today, the only famous line that returns time and again in any discussion of moderation belongs to Barry Goldwater: “Extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Goldwater’s witty words challenge us to rethink the nature of political moderation. The latter is a complex virtue with many ethical and institutional facets that make our liberal democracy work. Professor Craiutu traces its distinguished genealogy, then addresses such questions as: What kind of virtue is political moderation and how can we study it? What does it mean to be a moderate voice in politics? What are the limits and benefits of moderation? Can moderation ever be a winning card in politics at the beginning of the twenty-first century?
Aurelian Craiutu is Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. His talk draws from his forthcoming book, Why Not Moderation? Letters to Young Radicals. Cambridge University Press, 2023.
Marcus Witcher addresses modern day conservatives' veneration of Reagan as a conservative purist. Professor Witcher challenges the idea that Reagan won the Cold War by sticking to his conservative principles and by not compromising with the Soviet Union. In reality, many conservatives opposed Reagan's policies during the 1980s--including the signing of the INF Treaty that brought about more peaceful relations between the Soviet Union and the United States. Professor Witcher's lecture invites us to reevaluate Reagan's role in ending the Cold War and forces us to grapple with the ways in which myth and memory influence our understanding of the past. Marcus Witcher is an assistant professor of history at Huntingdon College. He earned his PhD from the University of Alabama in 2017. His first book, Getting Right with Reagan: The Struggle for True Conservatism, 1980-2016, was published in 2019 by the University Press of Kansas.
Climate change is real and its impacts are mostly negative, but Bjorn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus Center says that common portrayals of devastation are unfounded. In this lecture, Professor Lomborg outlines how to establish a rational climate policy in the context of many other, competing global issues. The Copenhagen Consensus Center is a think-tank that researches the smartest ways to do good. For this work, Lomborg was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. His numerous books include False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet, The Skeptical Environmentalist, and Prioritizing Development: A Cost Benefit Analysis of the UN's SDGs.
Many people think prisons are all the same—rows of cells filled with violent men whom officials rule with an iron fist. Yet, life behind bars varies in remarkable ways. Drawing on economics and a vast empirical literature on legal systems, David Skarbek, associate professor of political science at Brown University, explains why life on the inside varies in such fascinating and novel ways, and also how social order evolves and takes root behind bars.
Professor Skarbek is the author of two books: The Social Order of the Underworld: How Prison Gangs Govern the American Penal System (Oxford University Press, 2014) and The Puzzle of Prison Order: Why Life behind Bars Varies around the World (Oxford University Press, 2020). This particular lecture was sponsored by the usual--the HOPE Center and the Duke PPE program, and by the Arete Initiative of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University.
On February 17, 2020, Charles Whitaker delivered, "Conflict and Crisis: How the Digital Revolution Upended Journalism and Democracy," as part of the Hayek Lecture Series. The digital revolution upended the media paradigm in ways that have both advanced and harmed society as we knew it. On the one hand, it democratized the production and dissemination of content, nullifying the influence of gatekeepers who once controlled the flow of information in print and across airwaves. But it also enflamed our tribal passions, allowing us to burrow into echo chambers that confirm our biases and stoke our grievances. And it hastened the dismantling of local and regional news outlets that served a vital function in the promotion of community and maintenance of our democracy. In this discussion, Whitaker traces the arc of the digital maelstrom and its socio-political consequences and tries to suggest a way forward.
Charles Whitaker is dean and professor at Northwestern Medill School.
On Monday, November 18th, 2019, Peter Arcidiacono presented, "Legacy and Athletic Preferences at Harvard" at the Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University.
Professor Arcidiacono specializes in research involving applied microeconomics, applied economics, and labor economics. Along with Richard D. Kahlenberg, Arcidiacono was hired by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) to serve as an expert witness in the Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard lawsuit, which was heard by Allison Dale Burroughs in Massachusetts federal district court in Boston in October 2018. Video recorded and produced by Shaun King, Department of Political Science, Duke University.
In this lecture, Professor Bueno de Mesquita will question the impact of the Protestant Reformation, arguing that it was not a major driver either of northern Europe's economic success or of the decline of Roman Catholicism's sway in Europe. Rather, both, along with Europe's secularization and creation of sovereign states, were predictable products of the Concordat of Worms.
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Silver Professor of Politics at New York University. He is an expert on international conflict, foreign policy formation, and nation building. His current research focuses on the links between political institutions, economic growth, and political change. He is also investigating the causes and consequences of international conflict as well as national security policy forecasting and analysis. Produced by Shaun King, Duke University Department of Political Science.