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Forgive my sneer

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• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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This NY Times article discusses the lack of rigor in colleges of business.  Business majors spend less time studying than any other major and show the weakest gains in the first two years of college in writing and reasoning skills.  And get this – business majors score lower than every other major on the GMAT (the M.B.A. entrance exam)!  I guess they do have one brag – they pay more in tuition because of differential tuition costs.

So what should a student aspiring to a business career do?  Well, surveys of businesses show that they want employees who can think clearly and creatively, write coherently, and analyze data.  So you’d be just as well off majoring in the humanities or social sciences.  This might be one reason why most Ivy League schools don’t even have a business major for undergradutes.  Universities that have undergraduate business programs that are highly praised integrate history and philosophy into their curriculum.



  1. Just to make sure we are clear. ;)

    Econ majors have all of these desirable characteristics. The aggregate data of “business school majors” does not pick up the rather stellar performance of econ majors, not to mention their success on standardized tests, in grad school, in law school, and in gaining high averages salaries over their life-time.

    Perhaps thought the business professors should have to justify their skyrocketing salaries in light of these accusations!


  2. It is a rather distasteful historical point that econ programs that stayed loyal to humanities were starved, and those that made the Faustian bargain found themselves flush. It too very little time to convince the remaining professors to make the leap. Someone needs to write a good history of economics talking about this transition.

    I am not sure how many disciplines tend to have one foot in two academic colleges like this. At ‘Bama you could choose where you wanted to earn your electives and get either a BS or a BA. Everyone in my family was a scientist and I just like the sound of a “BS degree” in economics.


  3. Mike says:

    This article covering the relationship between philosophy and business (for one philosopher) is fairly popular, on and off. Philosophy should help us understand human nature which should, in turn, help us with pretty much everything. The understated value of false beliefs notwithstanding.


  4. Huenemann says:

    It looks like the “aggregated business majors” described in the article didn’t include economists at all; so no economic students have been sneered at here.


    • Anonymous says:

      I saw that. Other thoughts: what do business schools produce if this article is correct? The easy answer is: nothing of value. The scary answer would be: something of value that we aren’t measuring.

      It has to be the case that university education is more than a dating service. Well, I will assume that until I can no longer convince myself.


      • Huenemann says:

        My own view is that most elements of the university are set up to measure academic abilities. But an education in business may not need to be all that academic. So it wouldn’t be surprising if people who had an excellent preparation for a business trade did not perform well by academic standards. Of course, I can’t say whether students really are receiving excellent prep for a business trade.


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