What We Are Reading Today: First Things by Hadley Arkes

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Updated 03 July 2020

What We Are Reading Today: First Things by Hadley Arkes

This book restores to us an understanding that was once settled in the “moral sciences:” That there are propositions, in morals and law, which are not only true but which cannot be otherwise. 

It was understood in the past that, in morals or in mathematics, our knowledge begins with certain axioms that must hold true of necessity; that the principles drawn from these axioms hold true universally, unaffected by variations in local “cultures;” and that the presence of these axioms makes it possible to have, in the domain of morals, some right answers. Hadley Arkes restates the grounds of that older understanding and unfolds its implications for the most vexing political problems of our day.

The author turns first to the classic debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. After establishing the groundwork and properties of moral propositions, he traces their application in such issues as selective conscientious objection, justifications for war, the war in Vietnam, a nation’s obligation to intervene abroad, the notion of supererogatory acts, the claims of “privacy,” and the problem of abortion.


What We Are Reading Today: Urban Economics and Fiscal Policy by Holfer Sieg

Updated 06 August 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Urban Economics and Fiscal Policy by Holfer Sieg

With more than half of today’s global GDP being produced by approximately 400 metropolitan centers, learning about the economics of cities is vital to understanding economic prosperity. 

This textbook introduces graduate and upper-division undergraduate students to the field of urban economics and fiscal policy, relying on a modern approach that integrates theoretical and empirical analysis. Based on material that Holger Sieg has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Urban Economics and Fiscal Policy brings the most recent insights from the field into the classroom.

Divided into short chapters, the book explores fiscal policies that directly shape economic issues in cities, such as city taxes, the provision of quality education, access to affordable housing, and protection from crime and natural hazards. 

For each issue, Sieg offers questions, facts, and background; illuminates how economic theory helps students engage with topics; and presents empirical data that shows how economic ideas play out in daily life. 

Throughout, the book pushes readers to think critically and immediately put what they are learning to use by applying cutting-edge theory to data.

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