virginia-lecture-endf-us-letter-format - Hartmut Kliemt...

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Hartmut  Kliemt Virginia Virtue - Virginia Vice *   Virginia Political Economy  Lecture 1994 The old  lord  was  dreaming  that  he was  addressing  his fellow  lords  in the  house of lords. And  he was dreaming, and  dreaming  . .. Suddenly, "oops" he  woke up, and  there he was, he  was  giving a talk in the house of lords!  Well, that  is roughly  how  I feel addressing  "Lord  Jim" and  all of you  this  night.   I   am   aware,   though,   that   a   philosopher's   dream   may   be   an  economist's   nightmare.   So   let   me   assure   those   amongst   you   who   are  somewhat  shaken  by the prospect of listening to a German  philosopher  that  I came to your new  world  of economics as a fellow worldly philosopher. 1   Having  my  intellectual  roots  in  the  works  of the  British  Moralists  I feel  naturally  at home  amongst  Virginia  Political Economists. Therefore  let me  dare to adopt  a we perspective henceforth.  There  are  those  amongst  us  who  intend  to make  the  world  a better  place  and  there are those who just want  to understand  and  to explain what makes  the  social  world  go  round.  But  we  all  draw  attention  to  the  same  basic  insights  of our  dismal  science: insights  related  to scarcity  and  opportunity   costs.  To those  who  have  seen  the  light  we  talk  of shadow  or  prices  that  are  necessarily attached  to the pursuit  of values. We point out that in a world  of 
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2 scarcity trade  offs must  inevitably be made  and  we insist that they better be  made  under  general rules by those who have to bear the costs.  Our  ways  of drawing  attention  to the  unwelcome  basic facts of life seem   vicious  to  professional  good  men  and  women.  But  without  paying  due   attention  to scarcity  and  due  respect  to individuals  the  rational  pursuit  of  any overall project of a good  life is hardly conceivable.  Thus  if you  are dreaming  that  your  alleged  vices are in fact virtues  wake   up. You are not dreaming: Virginia's vice  is  Virginia's virtue. So, why not let it rest with that and  turn  to the project of a good  dinner?  Well, since we all use to say that there is no such thing as a free lunch there  neither  should  be  a  free  dinner.  Therefore  let  me  exploit  my  transient   monopoly  and  collect a price by making  you  pay attention  to an exercise in  worldly ethics.  I will first generally speak  of varieties or types  of scarcity. The virtues  and   vices of what  I regard  as typical Virginian  ways  of dealing  with  the  more  dramatic   types   of   scarcity   will  then  be   illustrated   by  addressing  some 
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virginia-lecture-endf-us-letter-format - Hartmut Kliemt...

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