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Prophecies of Doom and Scenarios of Progress Herman Kahn, Julian Simon and the Prospective Imagination

by Paul Dragos Aligica

Prophecies of Doom and Scenarios of Progress Herman Kahn, Julian Simon and the Prospective Imagination Synopsis

This book focuses on the alternative paradigm, the pro-growth intellectual tradition that rejected the prophecies of doom and called for realism and pragmatism in dealing with the challenge of the future. Paul Dragos Aligica reconstructs and describes the basic elements of this tradition that emerged in the seventies as a response to the Club of Rome and the limits to growth movement. He outlines a comprehensive perspective on its methodological and conceptual foundations. Aligica uses the work of the two major founders of this alternative approach: Herman Kahn and Julian Simon. Herman Kahn was the first scholar and public intellectual to engage and refute the doomsday theses advanced by the Club of Rome and its followers. In his spirited and optimistic arguments he made a strong case for the feasibility, desirability and morality of global economic growth arguing that even given all the likely human, environmental, and material costs and risks, the case is close to if not fully overwhelming. Julian Simon elaborated the anti-doomsayers lines opened by Kahn, further developing the emerging paradigm. He articulated new and precise arguments on issues such as population growth, natural resources scarcity and technological change, and reinforced Kahn's thesis that continued world economic development is a moral imperative as well as a practical desideratum. Together, Kahn and Simon managed to build the foundations on which rest the current counter-reaction to the limits to growth rhetoric and its initiatives. Both were not only public figures of great accomplishments and influence but also remarkable thinkers and personalities.

Prophecies of Doom and Scenarios of Progress Herman Kahn, Julian Simon and the Prospective Imagination Press Reviews

Julian would have been grateful and honored to read the ideas he cared about so strongly presented with the clarity and accuracy that they appear in Prophecies of Doom and Scenarios of Progress. In the name of Julian Simon, I thank you. Rita J. Simon, University Professor in the School of Public Affairs and the College of Law at The American University--Sanford Lakoff Paul Dragos Aligica's book is a critically important contribution to intellectual history and social analysis that could serve us well in today's debate about global climate change. The book returns to the 'limits to growth' debate of the 1970s, describes the refreshingly optimistic response made by Herman Kahn and Julian Simon to that debate, and builds models of thought and action based on the Kahn-Simon response. Once again, we are reminded of the singular usefulness of analyses based on an honest description of scenarios that rely on human creativity and market incentives and the hopelessness of analyses that are not so based. Bruce Yandle, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Economics Emeritus Clemson University, former executive director of the Federal Trade Commission--Sanford Lakoff I am very impressed with the quality of writing and discussion. Economic growth is a moral as well as a technical issue. In recent years, many environmentalists have questioned the real human gains from economic progress. Drawing on the work of Herman Kahn and Julian Simon, this book valuably and insightfully explores this debate, showing that there can be no turning away from the path of continued economic growth. Robert H. Nelson, Professor of Environmental Policy at the School of Public Affairs of the University of Maryland and Senior Fellow of the Competitive Enterprise Institute--Sanford Lakoff Anyone interested in the use of scientific models to predict gloom and doom scenarios (today's global warming prophets?) must read this powerfully crafted book. Paul Dragos Aligica applies the seminal works of Herman Kahn and Julian Simon, who wisely and correctly rejected 'limits to growth' predictions in the 1970s, to show that futurism is not just about scientific models and facts but choices involving human freedom, closed versus open social institutions, and incremental versus apocalyptic policy adaptations. Henry R. Nau, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, Elliott School, George Washington University and former adviser to Presidents Ford and Reagan--Sanford Lakoff

Book Information

ISBN: 9780826428721
Publication date: 23rd August 2007
Author: Paul Dragos Aligica
Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 160 pages
Categories: Social & political philosophy, Political science & theory,

About Paul Dragos Aligica

Dr. Aligica is a senior fellow at the Mercatus Center, an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute, and an associate professor at the National School of Political Science and Public Administration in Bucharest.

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