This month's issue of Cato Unbound, "Should Coercion Count? The Place of Liberty in Economic Theory," kicks off today with a penetrating essay by GMU economist and Econ Journal Watch editor Dan Klein.
In my view, economic understanding, by experts and the general public alike, would gain by economists doing more of the following: (1) using the voluntary/coercive distinction in their formulations, analysis, and discourse; (2) making that utilization explicit and unabashed; (3) thinking hard about the content of that distinction, particularly by clarifying the holes and gray areas; (4) making it clear that, while they may promote a presumption of liberty, they do not mean to suggest that the distinction carries a necessary condemnation of coercion.
Why don't economists do all this already? Read Dan's essay, and the forthcoming replies from Harvard economist Ed Glaeser, NYU philosopher Liam Murphy, and Chicago law and economics powerhouse (and Cato scholar) Richard Epstein.