Capitalism and Its Critics >> Content Detail



Essay I

Write a five to seven page essay on the following topic:

The critical elements in any social or economic theory are twofold:

  1. A characterization of human beings and their motivation;
  2. A notion of how and why individual human beings come together to form a community or a social system.

Compare and contrast the way in which Ayn Rand answers these questions to the way in which Milton Friedman does so.

In particular, what role does the social system play in The Fountainhead? In Capitalism and Freedom?

Essay II

Write an essay of about seven pages on the following two-part topic.

Part I

Compare and contrast the work histories of individuals in two or three generations of the same family. Students are encouraged to pick the individuals from your own family, one from your parents' generation and one from your grandparents' generation. Then add in your own work history thus far and how your career is likely to develop in the future.

Part II

Evaluate the different types of theories we have considered in the course so far (liberal/neo-classical and Marxist) in terms of their ability to explain these histories and the differences among them.

Essay III

Write an essay of about seven pages on the effectiveness of teamwork relative to individual effort in:

  1. Solving particular economic and/or engineering problems.
  2. In giving a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment to the people involved.

Where possible, draw on your own experience at work or in classes at MIT and/or particular examples drawn from The Fountainhead, The Soul of the New Machine, and The Double Helix.

Are there some types of problems for which individual work is likely to be more effective than teamwork and visa versa? Or does the most effective approach depend on how the team is organized, the particular people who are required to work together, the leadership of the group, etc.?


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