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Economics, properly understood, is a dual examination of rules and social interaction within those rules, not the parametrization of atomistic interaction. Taken together, McCloskey’s trilogy on the Bourgeois era is a welcome return to comparative historical political economy, one that embraces a diversity of historical, political, and cultural contexts anchored in the universality of economic analysis. Moreover, it illustrates the importance of unpacking the relationship between ideas and institutions to explain the nature and causes of economic growth. In this paper, we explore this relationship using a dual analysis of rules and interaction within rules, as discussed by Buchanan, Lachmann, and Hayek to understand how ideas and institutions interact to generate the ethical underpinnings for trade, innovation, and economic growth.

GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 16-34, 2016.

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