One of my joys in life is discussing important ideas with great thinkers. So I was delighted to have dinner at my home with Dr. Vernon Smith and his wife Candace, Dr. Bart Wilson and his partner Ryan Johnson, Todd Zywicki and his wife Jeri Curry, and Craig Biddle. I won’t get into everyone’s history and intellectual achievements, but here’s an indication . . .
Among his myriad accomplishments, Vernon Smith won the Nobel Prize in economics for his groundbreaking work in experimental economics, has authored or coauthored more than 300 articles and books, holds joint appointments with the Argyros School of Business & Economics and the Fowler School of Law, and is part of a team creating and running the new Economic Science Institute at Chapman University. His most recent book, co-authored with Bart Wilson, is Humanomics: Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations for the Twenty-First Century.
Candace Smith, a long-time educator who has included Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged in her curricula, is founding manager of Candace Smith Etiquette, where she teaches “etiquette for the business of life” and coaches university students, business people, organizations, and local groups in social skills tailored to their aims and circumstances. (Candice is a fount of clarity and a force of nature.)
Bart Wilson is, among other things, the Donald P. Kennedy Endowed Chair in Economics and Law at Chapman University. He is also a founding member of the Economic Science Institute, founding member and Director of the Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy, and, as mentioned above, co-author of Humanomics.
Todd Zywicki is Foundation Professor of Law at the Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University, a Senior Fellow of the Cato Institute, and a Senior Fellow at the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. Among his many appointments and accomplishments, Todd also founded and serves on the board on CEHE.
Craig Biddle is editor of The Objective Standard and author of many essays and books, including Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It and Rational Egoism: The Morality for Human Flourishing. He is also a member of the board of Prometheus Foundation.
Our lively conversations ranged from the ideas of Adam Smith and the importance of an inductive, empirical approach to economics; to the importance of integrating economics with the humanities (philosophy, literature, etc.); to the importance of a moral foundation for economics that comports with the self-interested nature of production and trade; to the significance of Ayn Rand’s ideas in this regard. It was rich and rewarding. I learned a lot.
In the course of the evening, Vernon and Bart signed copies of Humanomics, Craig signed copies of Loving Life, and, upon request, I gave everyone pamphlets of Ayn Rand’s essays, “Man’s Rights,” “The Nature of Government,” and “The Meaning of Money,” as well as Leonard Peikoff’s “The Philosophy of Objectivism: A Brief Summary.”
I love these kinds of dinners. And I especially enjoyed hearing about Vernon’s long career and the evolution of his thinking. He is a remarkable intellectual.
I enjoy men of the mind!