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Walter Lippmann and the Austrian School: Towards a Deeper Epistemological Convergence


Walter Lippmann is widely acknowledged as the Father of modern American Journalism and one of the most profound public thinkers of the twentieth century. Though he extensively corresponded with economists, political philosophers, political scientists, and statesmen on both sides of the Atlantic, Lippmann’s interest in political economy has only come under serious academic investigation within the last 20 years. When Lippmann has been explored in the history of economic thought, he has generally been considered to be a propagator and popularizer of others’ ideas rather than a serious theorist in his own right, particularly his role in spreading Keynesianism as one of the early supporters of the New Deal. This chapter directly challenges this dominant interpretation on two fronts. First, it acknowledges and explores Lippmann’s role as a contributor to the economic discourse of his time. Second, it challenges categorizing Lippmann as a Keynesian by highlighting the closeness of many of his ideas to the Austrian school of thought. It accomplishes this by giving a holistic view of Lippmann’s thought, not only in the Great Depression and New Deal Era, but how he evolved from a student sympathetic to socialism at Harvard in 1910 to a theorist concerned with epistemological problems of good political, social, and economic order. The development of Lippmann’s thought in this broader lens parallels much of the work of Hayek, Mises, and others during this period, and presents rich new research opportunities for both modern Austrian economists as well as historians of economic thought.



Higgins, J.P. (2021), "Walter Lippmann and the Austrian School: Towards a Deeper Epistemological Convergence", Fiorito, L., Scheall, S. and Suprinyak, C.E. (Ed.) Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology: Including a Symposium on Frank Knight's Risk, Uncertainty and Profit at 100 (Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, Vol. 39C), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 99-120.



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