I started doing end-of-the-year wrap-up last year: as I said then, it's
a nice exercise to remind me of what I accomplished over this year. (Reminding yourself of accomplishments is often recommended for people who only seem to remember what they didn't do.)
That certainly still applies, so here we go, summarizing my writing and speaking activities over the year, as well as some other pursuits I enjoyed and personal thoughts regarding the future.
I had one book out early this year, the edited collection Law and Social Economics: Essays in Ethical Values for Theory, Practice, and Policy from Palgrave Macmillan, and completed three more that will be out next year: Economics and the Virtues: Building a New Moral Foundation, co-edited with Jennifer A. Baker for Oxford University Press; Social Economics (Critical Concepts in Economics), a four-volume collection of social economics literature co-edited with Wilfred Dolfsma, Deborah Figart, Robert McMaster, and Ellen Mutari for Routledge (I was responsible for editing the volume on philosophy); and a sole-authored (and as-yet-untitled) book on Marvel Comics' Civil War that I will self-publish on Amazon in the spring (after a disagreement with the original publisher that originally contracted it).
I also worked on the edited book The Insanity Defense: Multidisciplinary Views on Its History, Trends, and Controversies, scheduled to come out late next year from Praeger, and I have a proposal for another edited book that will be presented to the publishers' delegates in January. Finally, I did a lot of background reading for the book on superheroes and philosophy I'll be writing in the spring, and I still have plans for books on individualism, moral judgment, and law-and-economics, one of which I hope to start later next year.
ARTICLES AND CHAPTERS
In terms of shorter pieces, I wrote seven new ones (and successfully revised three written last year):
- An article on externalities (revised and published in Oeconomia)
- A chapter on nudges in health care (revised and forthcoming in a John Hopkins University Press volume)
- An article on the ethics of antitrust law (revised and forthcoming in Antitrust Bulletin along with a reply to critics)
- My presidential address to the Association for Social Economics (ASE) on judgment (published in Review of Social Economy)
- A chapter on the crucial importance of interests in libertarian paternalism (forthcoming in a Springer volume)
- A chapter on the basic arguments against nudges (forthcoming in a Palgrave volume)
- A chapter on Kant, virtue, and economics (forthcoming in Economics and the Virtues)
- An article on Beccaria for a law-and-economics journal (under review)
- A chapter on happiness policy for a positive psychology handbook (under review)
- An article on merit goods and nudges (under review)
I also started writing a paper for the Mercatus Center on patient autonomy and a chapter on the ethics and economics of work. Looking ahead to 2016, I've agreed to write three pieces on various aspects of behavioral economics and nudge; other than that, I plan to focus on books (about which more below).
This year it seems I gave a smaller number but wider variety of talks:
- Two presentations at the ASSA meetings in January: one on inequality at a session of the International Network for Economic Method and my presidential address for the ASE (available on YouTube on the new ASE channel).
- A similar presentation on inequality for the Young Scholars Initiative at the Institute for New Economic Thinking in February.
- A presentation on the role of interests in nudges, given at a conference on nudges in Lucerne, Switzerland, in April.
- A presentation on the ethics and economics of work at a conference in San Diego in May.
- Finally, a pubic lecture on superheroes and philosophy at York College of Pennsylvania in October (described in an earlier post).
I blogged even less this year than the last: an even dozen posts at Psychology Today and a handful at Economics and Ethics and The Comics Professor, as well as here (on "Why I Edit Books"). Notably, Jennifer Baker and I had a blog post at OUPblog, discussing the movie "The Big Short" in relation to virtue (and our co-edited book), and I was honored to contribute a guest post to the Cultural Gutter about my year reading the Fantastic Four. I always mean to blog more—who doesn't?—but working on books and paper has always seemed more important, and leaves less time for blog posts. (And I'm not totally convinced that's a bad thing.) When I am moved to blog, it's usually about some issue related to work, writing, or life, and seems too self-indulgent; see below on how I'm thinking of dealing with that.
ON A MORE PERSONAL NOTE
In 2015 I watched a lot of classic films (mostly from the 30s and 40s) and fell in love with Barbara Stanwyck as well as the films of Frank Capra. (Can you imagine if Capra had directed a Captain America film? Of course, you could argue that he directed several about Steve Rogers.) I also caught up with more shows on Netflix that I missed the first time around, like How I Met Your Mother and One Tree Hill. In terms of music, I enjoyed many fantastic new albums in metal and jazz; reveled in Bing, Louis, and Judy as much as ever; and discovered some second-tier Southern rock bands I had missed, such as the Outlaws and the Marshall Tucker Band (the latter due, of all things, to the prominent placement of "Can't You See" in the One Hill Tree season 6 finale). As always, I would love to write about music, the true center of my life, but I find it very difficult, so I just listen, explore, and listen some more.
Comics marched on, with the bright lights showing themselves mainly in Marvel Comics' more lighthearted titles, such as Howard the Duck, The Astonishing Ant-Man, Ms. Marvel, and Spider-Woman, and also in a welcome revival of several of the solo Avengers books, such as Captain America: Sam Wilson, The Invincible Iron Man, and The Mighty Thor (although the Avengers books themselves are largely disappointing). On the DC Comics side, the weekly Batman and Robin Eternal was a surprising pleasure, introducing a much-beloved character from the pre-Flashpoint days into the New 52 in a way fairly consistent with earlier characterization. Overall, however, I am growing more disenchanted with newer superhero comics, and spending more time reading and rereading the classics from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, whether for a book project or simply for fun. (Someday I'll try to expand on this at The Comics Professor.)
In the next year I plan to do just as much writing, but in a different way. As I mentioned above, as far as scholarly writing in concerned I want to focus even more on books than articles and chapters. Looking back on 2015, though, working on the Civil War book was easily the highlight in terms of writing; and following the ordeal with the original publisher, I've enjoyed working with my copyeditor and cover artist to get it ready for self-publication on Amazon's Kindle Direct Program in the spring. After I finish my next superhero-and-philosophy book for Wiley Blackwell, I'm going to consider writing more on comics for self-publication, where I will have more freedom to write on the characters and stories I want to without being concerned with which books a commercial press (with understandable commercial pressures) will be willing to publish. I will always work with traditional publishers to publish some of my superhero work, but having both avenues to travel down will allow to explore book projects focused on characters who might not have the larger exposure in the popular media (as well as those that did but had lousy movies made based on them).
I also want to move into fiction—or, I should say, back into it. My father regularly asks me when I'll write fiction again, because he was the biggest fan of the stories and short books I wrote in junior high and high school. I've long wanted to write fiction again, albeit much more personal and emotional stories than the science fiction adventure I wrote when I was younger. (Ha, I said "younger.") In particular, the ideas I'm tempted to discuss on my Psychology Today blog these days are too personal, and the resulting blog posts would be so self-indulgent, that I think fiction is the best outlet for them.
Why haven't I started writing fiction yet? Fear of failure, of course. I know I'm a decent scholarly and popular philosophy writer, but I don't know if I'm a decent fiction writer, so it's easier to keep writing what I've proven to be decent at than take a risk on something that I haven't. Of course, the rational side of me knows that whether I succeed or fail isn't the most important thing; the intrinsic rewards of writing what I want to write, and expressing the ideas and feelings I can't express otherwise, are much more important. As with so many things, however, knowing something and feeling it are two very different things, and continuing to focus on what you know you're decent at is a very comfortable thing to do.
Nonetheless, in 2016 I hope to move forward with writing fiction, even if it means scaling back on my nonfiction writing—as well as on my addiction to email and Twitter, which may be more difficult! (And don't get me started on making music too... one creative leap of faith at a time, please.) Hopefully, this time next year, I'll be able to write a year-end update more like this one from Jim C. Hines, a fantastic writer (and all-around swell guy) I follow on Twitter, who maintains a pace throughout the entire year that I managed to keep up only for two months while writing the Civil War book. Maybe then, I'll feel comfortable calling myself a writer, but regardless, I think I'll enjoy my time more that way.
And 44 years into this life, that sounds like a nice thing to do.