October, 2010

Encouraging a Productive Research Agenda: Peter Boettke and the Devil's Test

  • Diana Thomas

    Associate Professor of Economics, Creighton University
  • Michael D. Thomas

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Peter Boettke is the single most effective graduate mentor in the Austrian economics tradition today. One of the many teaching tools Boettke uses is the devil's test. The test is an effective teaching tool because it clarifies what the goals of the political economist as critic can be. Boettke teaches his students that much can be done to clarify the logic of incentives, which in turn clarifies the debate in political advocacy. We argued that the devil's test is a good example of how Boettke enables students to become not only effective teachers but also productive scholars. The analytical framework of the heuristic enables students to analyze complex policy questions in a rigorous way. Many of Boettke's students have successfully used the distinction between motivational assumptions and causal processes, which is implicit in the devil's test, in their research.

Find the article at the Journal of Private Enterprise.