How economics thinks about technology and labor

A recent David Autor review paper sums up the evolution: I began by asking what the role of technology—digital or otherwise—is in determining wages and shaping wage inequality. I presented four answers corresponding to four strands of thinking on this topic: the education race, the task-polarization model, the automation-reinstatement race, and the era of AI …

William James on certainty

From The Will to Believe in 1896: Objective evidence and certitude are doubtless very fine ideals to play with, but where on this moonlit and dream-visited planet are they found? I am, therefore, myself a complete empiricist so far as my theory of human knowledge goes. I live, to be sure, by the practical faith …

David Leonhardt on logic

On the Josh Barro Very Serious podcast, all about making use of expert knowledge, here’s David Leonhardt of the New York Times: Don’t go to the nihilist place of ‘Well, there’s no such thing as a fact’, right? And ‘We can all pick our experts on climate change.’ And ‘Maybe it’s happening or maybe it’s …

Sociology, history, and epistemology

More than 50 years ago, Quine suggested that epistemology must be “naturalized.” Here is Kwame Anthony Appiah explaining this idea in his book Thinking It Through: To claim that a belief is justified is not just to say when it will be believed but also to say when it ought to be believed. And we …

A short definition of power

From Power for All, by Julie Battilana and Tiziana Casciaro: There are two common threads across these definitions [of power across the social sciences]. The first is that the authors view power as the ability of a person or a group of people to produce an effect on others–that is, to influence their behaviors. This …