Civilizing the Marketplace of Ideas

Roundup: Historians' Take
tags: economic history, economics

Niall Ferguson is Professor of History at Harvard University. His latest book is The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die.

CAMBRIDGE – “When men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths,” US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in a famous dissenting opinion in 1919, “they may come to believe…that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas – that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.”

Like any market, however, the marketplace of ideas needs regulation: in particular, its participants should be bound by norms of honesty, humility, and civility. Moreover, every idea-trader should adhere to these principles....

Read entire article at Project Syndicate

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