Edited by Ross B. Emmett
Chapter 10: Deirdre N. McCloskey
Stephen T. Ziliak ‘I try to show that you don’t have to be a barbarian to be a Chicago School economist.’ That, in her own words, is Deirdre McCloskey’s main – though she thinks ‘failed’ – contribution to Chicago School economics (McCloskey 2002). Donald Nansen McCloskey (1942–) was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Donald changed gender in 1995, from male to female, becoming Deirdre (McCloskey 1999). She is the oldest of three children born to Helen Stueland McCloskey and the late Robert G. McCloskey. Her father, whose life was cut short by a heart attack, was in Deirdre’s youth a tenured professor of government at Harvard University. He was fluent in the humanities as much as in law and social science; Joseph Schumpeter and the writer W.H. Auden were his personal friends and coffee break mates. Helen’s passion was in poetry and opera. She did not deny the children the values and joys of intellectual and artistic life pursuits – ’burn always with a gem-like flame’, she told Deirdre and the others. (Books were all over the McCloskey household: each child was supplied with a personal library.) Cambridge and family conspired to make Deirdre into a professor by, Deirdre figures, ‘about age five’ (McCloskey 2002). She read widely, but especially in history and literature. Yet like most professors, she stumbled in her early years. At age 10, for example, she understood that her father was the author of a fine new book but she was not sure if...
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