Nov 14, 2022Liked by Rohit Krishnan

I enjoyed this.

This reminded me of an anecdote about a famous early electrical engineer who had a lot of practical experience who was taking classes at Columbia with a theorist he didn't like. He supposedly used his cutting edge practical knowledge to trick his professor into electrocuting himself in front of the class during demonstrations. Business and academia seem to attract different kinds of people and the former tend to skip grad school or go to industry straight after (see SV becoming a bigger employer of top econ phds).

I can think of some examples of famous modern academic economists who got rich. Hal Varian went from Stanford to Google early on to design their auctions. Julian Simon ran a successful mail-order business and wrote a book about it. He also wrote a paper suggesting that airlines run a reverse auction to handle overbooking, which was rejected by airlines at the time but was widely adopted a decade later. (I don't think he made money from the latter.)

Nobel economist Paul Samuelson got rich as an early investor in Berkshire Hathaway, while promoting a strong version of efficient market theory in public. Buffett would complain that this was hypocritical (without referring to him by name), but he seems to be over it now.


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Thanks for this! It helps crystallize some of my thoughts on finances. The financial world is not random, but its trends and effects are so unpredictable it's more productive to treat it as though it is random. Thus, the key skill is an ability to work productively with uncertainty, to ride the waves of uncertainty instead of seeking a rock-solid provable foundation.

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Nov 7, 2022·edited Nov 7, 2022Liked by Rohit Krishnan

Bertrand Russell wrote that philosophy is the attempt to answer ultimate questions. Perhaps the philosophy of business could become an area for deeper reflection into why we work? That seems like the most unique role of philosophy in relationship to business. Most other questions would probably lead to philosophy that looks like anthropology, psychology, or economics.

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Nov 7, 2022Liked by Rohit Krishnan

Thank you for a thought provoking article.

What are the foundational set of questions that you think need to be investigated by a philosophy of business? In the essay you wrote "The central questions of this study concern what qualifies as a business, the reliability of business theories, and the ultimate purpose of business," which seems to come from the earlier definition of a philosophy of science. Porting over these questions from the philosophy of science realm presumes that there is massive overlap between the two fields, but is that a correct assumption?

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What was that cryptocurrency which tries to monetize social capital? My Google search string skills aren’t up to the task of finding it.

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