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20th century American economist of the Chicago School
Frank Knight

Frank Hyneman Knight (7 November 1885 – 15 April 1972) was an American economist who spent most of his career at the University of Chicago, where he became one of the founders of the Chicago school. Nobel laureates Milton Friedman, George Stigler and James M. Buchanan were all students of Knight at Chicago. Ronald Coase said that Knight, without teaching him, was a major influence on his thinking. F.A. Hayek considered Knight to be one of the major figures in preserving and promoting classical liberal thought in the twentieth century.


Knight, Frank H. (1885-1972), by Richard Boyd, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical essay
Frank Hyneman Knight was born in McLean County, Illinois, and was educated at small denominational colleges in Tennessee ... Knight's interest in developing an American institutionalist economics was the primary motive behind his appointment as professor of economics at the University of Chicago in 1927, where he taught until his retirement in 1952. Along with his colleague, Jacob Viner, Knight is regarded as one of the formative influences on the Chicago School of Economics. Among Knight's students during his early years at Chicago were Milton Friedman, George Stigler, Henry Simons, Aaron Director, and, later, James Buchanan.
Related Topics: Ethics, Liberty


7 Nov 1885, Frank Hyneman Knight, in McLean County, Illinois


15 Apr 1972, in Chicago, Illinois


James M. Buchanan and the Rebirth of Political Economy, by Peter J. Boettke, Economics and its Discontents, 1998
Examines Buchanan's contributions in bursting the "romantic vision of political science," advancing subjectivism as a challenge to modern economics formalism and re-integrating moral philosophy into economics
A self-described libertarian socialist ... Buchanan was "converted" ... after six-weeks of price theory with Frank Knight. The libertarian values remained, but now Buchanan understood through Knight that the market (not government) was the organizational form most consistent with those values. Knight became for Buchanan his intellectual role model—challenge everything and anyone, nothing should be treated as sacred, and recognize that most ideas peddled about are nonsense ... From Knight, Buchanan got ... the idea that economics is not a science in the traditional meaning of that term.
The life and times of F.A. Hayek, who explained why political liberty is impossible without economic liberty, by Jim Powell, 2000
Lengthy biographical essay, with extensive quotes; alternate version of "The Worst on Top" chapter of The Triumph of Liberty (2000)
Robbins arranged to reprint the work of a number of economists ... He assigned Risk, Uncertainty and Profit, by the University of Chicago's Frank H. Knight ... Machlup showed the page proofs [of The Road to Serfdom] to Aaron Director, Milton Friedman's brother-in-law. Presumably it was Director who sent the page proofs to Frank Knight, the most influential thinker in the University of Chicago's economics department. Knight, in turn, seems to have urged the book on William Couch, editor of the University of Chicago Press, and the decision was made to publish it.
Perfect Competition and the Transformation of Economics by Frank M. Machovec [PDF], by John B. Egger, Cato Journal, 1995
Review of the subject book, which argues that economics "embracing of perfect competition", over rivalrous competition, was a scientific revolution (as per Thomas Kuhn), but that led the profession down the wrong path
A Kuhnian story is more powerful if one can identify a unique revolutionary spark. For Machovec it was one book: Frank Knight's Risk, Uncertainty and Profit ([1921] 1971). He sees Knight as 'the leading expositor of the perfectly competitive model' (p. 265). But Knight’s role as 'leading expositor' has been controversial, most recently on the Austrian economics Internet discussion group, and I shall not try to resolve it here. Knight, the classic 'puzzler' (Hayek 1978), is often delightful (Knight 1956) but was on the wrong end of the capital controversy with Hayek.


Best of Both Worlds: An Interview with Milton Friedman, by Milton Friedman, Brian Doherty, Reason, Jun 1995
Topics discussed include: the new Congress, flat taxes, the withholding tax, the people who influenced him, what led him to write about policy issues, libertarianism and how his political views have changed over the years
Reason: Do you have a clear memory of how your political philosophy formed? Was it any specific teacher ...?
Friedman: ... I was exposed as an undergraduate at Rutgers to two very strong influences: Homer Jones, who was a student of Frank Knight's from Chicago, and Arthur Burns ... Thanks to Homer, I was offered a scholarship at the University of Chicago and I went [there] and studied with Frank Knight, Jacob Viner, Henry Schultz, and so on. The atmosphere in Chicago in 1932 was very lively and active and encouraging ... I got a very good grounding in economic theory and statistics as well.

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Frank Knight" as of 6 Aug 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.