News story 12th Sep 2016

Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith: How we can learn from failed economic experiments

Nobel Laureate Professor Vernon Smith, famed for his work in the field of experimental economics, will be in conversation with renowned political philosopher Gerald Gaus, in a special public event hosted by Monash University's Philosophy Department in collaboration with Monash Business School.

Learning from failed experiments

The event, being held at the State Library of Victoria on Wednesday, 5 October 2016, is a rare opportunity to see two great minds on the cutting-edge of social and political theory discuss issues at the intersection of philosophy, politics and economics.

Prof Smith will discuss “Learning the Most from Proving Yourself Wrong: Three Examples", moderated by Prof Gaus, who is James E. Rogers Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona.

Prof Smith, who was awarded the Nobel prize in 2002 for his ground-breaking work in experimental economics, proposes that it is when we challenge the validity of our personal beliefs that we stand to learn the most; when we must re-examine what we think we know and learn from the experience.

He cites as three examples where he changed his own belief systems around several pivotal economic theories once widely accepted but now discarded, including: sharemarket efficiency and information asymetry; the causes of price bubbles; and the concept of trust and reciprocity among strangers.

Vernon Smith has joint appointments with the Argyros School of Business and Economics and the Fowler School of Law and is part of a team that will create and run the new Economic Science Institute at Chapman University.

He is a distinguished fellow of the American Economic Association, an Andersen Consulting Professor of the Year and the 1995 Adam Smith Award recipient conferred by the Association for the Private Enterprise Education.

He has authored or co-authored more than 250 articles and books on capital theory, finance, natural resource economics and experimental economics.

Prof Gaus' new book, The Tyranny of the Ideal argues diversity of thought about justice is beneficial and that "societies that disagree about justice are apt to outperform — from the perspective of justice itself — societies that have come to agree on what is the correct conception of justice and are thus 'well-ordered.'"

He is currently working on another book, An Evolving Moral Order: Hayekian Social Philosophy for the Twenty-first Century.

Both of these thinkers share a deep interest in understanding how the complex interactions that characterise modern society are structured and governed by evolved norms and institutions, especially the importance of what Smith calls ‘ecological rationality’.

The event will be held on Wednesday 5 October 2016, between 6.00pm and 8.00pm at the Experimedia Room, State Library of Victoria.

To attend this free public event, register here.

  • Vernon Smith profile

    Professor Vernon Smith

    Economic Science Institute Chapman University

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