Philosophy and Economics
Applied in: Winter 2013
University Offers: LSE, Warwick, Durham, UCL
My motivation to study the interlinked humanities and social sciences springs from living simultaneously in two very different cultures: Russia and Britain. Both nations claim to operate a free market economy, established by representative democracy and enshrining humane, secular ideals; however, life in these polities could hardly be at greater variance. Making sense of who I am, and the life I live, requires me to analyse the range of our intellectual, ideological and economic interactions.
Politics, especially the failure of Russian communism, has shaped my life. For me, Russia’s long imprisonment in an increasingly corrupt totalitarian state emphasises how destructive man’s greed for power can be. However, I think that ideological base of my country’s socialist experiment was also flawed. Reading Lane’s “The Rise and Fall of State Socialism’, I realised that a government imposing its vision of utopia upon the people will not only fail to maximise the welfare of its citizens; it will also infringe upon their freedom. Considering absolutism as part of my school’s History and Politics essay competition, I found that even in autocracies, pluralism of thought is inevitable, causing counterbalances to authority’s power. However, I think that the structure of western democracies, as evident in the recent US government shutdown, can deprive its citizens of freedom the system seems to validate.
I enjoy the challenge of thinking about fundamental concepts. Sandel’s introduction to utilitarianism made me question our view on justice as I feel we can override the minority by only concentrating on how the majority feels. To me, justice is a subject that has to be deliberated with reason yet what is reason? I liked how de Botton’s ‘Consolations of Philosophy’ portrays reason as a tool that enables us to assess everyday situations with clarity. I feel that reason comes with the liberty to be ourselves. However, we are affected by the norms and ideals of our societies, which limits any individuality we profess. I think that there must be limits to individualism because our self-indulgence can sometimes disregard the need for common good to sustain the functioning of our societies. These restrictions should find their foundations not through the state’s interpretation but reason.
My encounter with the concept of ‘ceteris paribus’ at A-Level Economics has made me inquisitive about the validity of neoclassical economics. I felt that there is a conflict between an assumption that spending patterns remain the same following an increase in income and the marginal utility theory. My inquiry encouraged me to investigate the demand model. Keen’s ‘Debunking Economics’ showed that the demand curve isn’t always a straight line. It appears to me that if the demand curve can take any shape, then at each price there could be more than one market equilibrium when it is combined with the supply curve. If so, our judgement of the most efficient outcome is undermined. This made me doubt free market ideology. Stiglitz’s ‘Price Of Inequality’, affirmed my belief that unregulated markets disregard the social costs of their activity. However, writing an essay for the Royal Economic Society, I concluded that judging by the experience of China, partial economic liberation such as privatisation, provides an incentive for efficiency. I particularly favoured market socialism, which appeared to compromise between the state and the private sector.
Alongside academia, I am an active public speaker. Captaincy of debating acknowledges my logical thinking skills. Coming 2nd in my school's public speaking competition expresses my ability to construct a coherent argument. Evaluating speakers' lectures while hosting a TEDx conference has sharpened my powers of analysis. Being a confident, open minded yet decisive and academically motivated individual, makes me a suitable candidate for a demanding degree.