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PPE Speaker Series: “How Economics Can Save the World” with Erik Angner (Stockholm University)

September 5, 2023 @ 6:30 pm - 7:45 pm


Economics has always been shadowed by a movement denouncing its practitioners, attacking its assumptions, rejecting its conclusions, and protesting its influence. Historian of economics William Oliver Coleman calls the movement anti-economics. But what used to be an innocent pastime for the chattering classes has taken on a more ominous tone in an era of pervasive science scepticism and fact resistance.

In this talk, Erik Angner will discuss his book How Economics Can Save the World: Simple Ideas to Solve Our Biggest Problems, which offers a spirited defense of economics as a way to lead a better life and build a better world too. His goal is to articulate what economics is by tracing what it does. He shows that economics has always been about improving the world and helping people live more meaningful, satisfying lives. Far from a mere instrument to predict the stock market or enrich the elite, economics provides a lens through which we can better understand how things work, design clever solutions, and create conditions for widespread human flourishing.

And yet, economics could be better. An exploration of the power and potential of economics inevitably underscores various ways in which that potential remains unrealized. Far from a simple-minded defense of the orthodoxy, then, the talk will also explores how economics can be improved – how it can be made more responsive to human needs and purposes.

Speaker Bio:

Erik Angner is Professor of Practical Philosophy at Stockholm University. As a result of serious mission creep, he holds two PhDs – one in Economics and one in History and Philosophy of Science – both from the University of Pittsburgh. His most recent book is How Economics Can Save the World: Simple Solutions to Solve Our Biggest Problems (Penguin 2023).

He is the author of two other books, Hayek and Natural Law (Routledge 2007) and A Course in Behavioral Economics, 3rd Ed. (Red Globe Press 2020), as well as multiple journal articles and book chapters on behavioral and experimental economics; the science and philosophy of happiness; and the history, philosophy, and methodology of contemporary economics. He lives in Stockholm with his wife and their three children.

Book description: How Economics Can Save The World describes what economics is, what it does, and what it’s for.

From parenting to organ donation, housing to anti-social behaviour, economics provides the tools we need to fix the biggest issues of today. Far from being a means to predict the stock market or enrich the elite, economics provides a lens through which we can better understand how things work, design clever solutions and create the conditions in which we can all flourish.

With a healthy dose of optimism, and packed with stories of economics in everyday situations, Erik Angner demonstrates the methods he and his fellow economists use to help improve our lives and the society in which we live. He shows us that economics can be a powerful force for good, awakening the possibility of a happier, more just and more sustainable world.

To read the book ahead of time, it is available for purchase here:


September 5, 2023
6:30 pm - 7:45 pm
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