The Frank H. Knight Page

His Life, Writings, and Place in the History of American Social Science

Frank H. Knight
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Frank Hyneman Knight (1885-1972)
Frank Knight was the dominant intellectual influence in the Department of Economics at The University of Chicago during the formative years of the distinctive approach to economic analysis identified with Chicago Economics, An economist by training and a philosopher/historian by inclination, Knight spent his career opposing the efforts of progressives, institutionalists, Keynesians, and Christians who advocated social control in the name of science and/or morality. Liberal society, he believed, was always in danger from those who claimed to know what was best for society on either moral or scientific grounds. (Social scientists, he found, often were moralists and scientists simultaneously!) What liberal society required was ongoing vigilance to protect the never-ending nature of its discussion, and wise guides to maintain the discussion's quality. While knowledge of the core of economic theory was a necessary ingredient for intelligent discussion, ultimately economics played a small role in Knight's understanding of a well-functioning liberal society.
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Image of Frank Knight used with kind permission of the University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center.
Last updated: 18-Feb-2010