Ethics and the Economic Approach to Human Behavior

Colin Wright was born in England where he received his early education. He attended Brigham Young University and earned his M.A. and Ph.D from the University of Chicago, where he was awarded several fellowships, including the Brookings Fellowship for Studies in Federal Taxation. Wright began teaching economics at Northwestern University before moving to Claremont in 1972 to become director of the Lincoln Institute at the Claremont Graduate School. A few years later, he was appointed dean of the faculty at Claremont McKenna College, a position he held until 1983 when he returned to full-time teaching and research within CMC's department of economics. Wright has also served several tours of duty as chairman of that department.

Early in his career Wright worked in environmental and urban economics, publishing several article's and one monograph in this area. During this period he also served as a consultant to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Labor Department on matters related to the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts of the 60s and 70s. More recently, his teaching and research interests have turned toward the interrelationships between moral philosophy and political economy. Alternatively, it could be said that he has returned to the foundations of economics as found in the works of David Hume and Adam Smith. This interest is reflected in his team teaching of two courses with two CMC professors: Ethics, Economics, and Public Policy with Clark Kucheman and Foundations of Political Economy with Jim Nichols. In the same vein, he joined forces with Professor Nichols to coedit From Economics to Political Economy ... and Back? (1990). He is presently working on an article titled "Economics and the Moral Dimension."

It is a pleasure to welcome dedicated teacher and moralist Colin Wright to the Athenaeum as the final speaker of this semester's series on Faculty Ideas in Progress.