Workshop prof. Naomi Oreskes (Harvard) – History of Knowledge Seminar Series @ Utrecht University.

20 do
20 mei 2021

All are invited to register to participate in the workshop with prof. Naomi Oreskes (Harvard), organized as part of the History of Knowledge Seminar Series @ Utrecht University.

Date: Thursday 20 May 2021
Time: 15:30-17:00 (CET)
Place: Online (Microsoft Teams)
* Places are limited and registration is required (see below) *


Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway’s The Magic of the Marketplace: The True History of a False Idea (forthcoming at Bloomsbury, 2021), chronicles how Americans came to have an irrational faith in the free market The book will delve into why the notion that markets are magic continues to have such a grip, even in the face of the growing opioid epidemic, widespread obesity, homelessness and climate change, which Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank, has called the “largest and widest ranging market failure ever seen.” The authors explore why the United States has not addressed these failures. The answer, they argue, is rooted in the widespread reluctance of the American people to accept the need for serious and sustained government engagement with the marketplace, and the concomitant unreasonable belief in the power of the marketplace to rectify itself. Government intervention was not always considered ‘bad.’ But in the 20th century a diverse group of thinkers and heads of industry systematically promoted the idea that markets are “magic,” and that free enterprise capitalism was “the American way.” Oreskes and Conway trace the story of how and why they championed that idea and made it stick.


This workshop will explore the aims and ambitions of The Magic of the Marketplace, focusing on one pre-circulated chapter: ‘Giving the Tripod of Freedom Intellectual Legs’. Here, Oreskes and Conway zoom in on the role of economists like Friedrich von Hayek and Ludwig von Mises in the 20th-century history of how the American public, when it comes to the workings of the economy, was “asked to believe in magic.”


Participation is free but the number of participants is limited to 35. Please register by sending an email to Once registered as a participant, you will receive the pre-circulated chapter as well as information and instructions on how to participate.

N.b.: Places will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis.

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