McCloskey, a noted economic historian, has made significant contributions towards our understanding of the Industrial Revolution and productivity growth of British industry and agriculture.

At this event she discussed her latest book, Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World, in which she makes the point that the rise of the West can be understood only as a result of an ideological change that occurred in England in the seventeenth century, and of the emergence of the “bourgeois deal” through which entrepreneurs were let free to engage in innovation and creative destruction. In return, they then turned on the engine of modern economic growth. McCloskey expressed her worries about the future of free societies. “Democracy and capitalism are two rather different animals,” she said. “We need to make sure that they get along, and, most importantly, that they don’t kill one another.”

About the Speaker

Deirdre N. McCloskey is the Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago and was Visiting Tinbergen Professor (2002–2006) of Philosophy, Economics, and Art and Cultural Studies at Erasmus University of Rotterdam. Trained at Harvard as an economist, she has written 14 books and edited seven more, and has published some 360 articles on economic theory, economic history, philosophy, rhetoric, feminism, ethics, and law. Later in her career, she turned her attention towards broader questions of culture, ethics and rhetoric and explored their links with economics. She describes herself now as a "postmodern free-market quantitative Episcopalian feminist Aristotelian".


  • Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital, Enriched the World, History of Capitalism series lecture with Deirdre McCloskey, 16 September 2015 (View)