While I am on vacation working on various scholarly projects, I am re-posting part 1 of my review of Matthew Slaboch’s 2018 book “A Road to Nowhere: The Idea of Progress and Its Critics.” (I will re-post part 2 tonight.)
Review (part 1 of 2) of Matthew W. Slaboch, A Road to Nowhere: The Idea of Progress and Its Critics (U Penn Press, 2018).
As soon as I heard about Patrick Collison and Tyler Cowen’s recent call for a new field of “progress studies” (Collison & Cowen, 2019, available here), my initial reaction was one of deep skepticism. Simply put, I mistrust our collective ability to discover, let alone implement, a reliable recipe for boosting long-term economic growth or for promoting ever-higher levels of human flourishing generally. But my skepticism poses a deeper, second-order question: is this mistrust warranted, or is it the result of my own Burkean and Humean biases or what Cowen likes to call “mood affiliation”? It turns out that I am not the only one to be skeptical of the concept of progress. Matthew Slaboch, a research fellow at Princeton, has devoted an entire scholarly…
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