Institute for Liberal Studies, Ottawa – Week 12 – The end and new beginnings

Carl Schelling

My last week in Ottawa was a bittersweet affair; after two months you get comfortable with your surroundings and have good connections with the people around you, but everything must come to an end.

Monday was supposed to be another trip to Montreal to see our upcoming talk, “The Moral Case for Legalising All Drugs”. I had, unfortunately, come down with a nasty case of the flu and had to miss out on seeing a talk to which I was most looking forward.

The final event I was to take part in was a Socratic seminar on public choice theory, market failure and government failure. Socratic seminars involve a set of readings, in this case a book Beyond Politics by US academic Randy Simmons. Each participant, of about 15 in total, completes the reading set and comes together for a discussion on the ideas of the text, where discussion both affirming and negative is welcomed. The idea is to be a group led discussion where the leader takes a step back and serves as only a guide and facilitator.

The discussion that took place over the Friday and Saturday was both insightful and had sufficient depth that points were made where I was able to question and challenge my own beliefs. Most notable was the discussion on the permissibility and legitimacy of government regulations. Some interesting justifications were made in the name of public goods, after some spirited debate as what constituted a true public good. In the end, I think my unwavering hesitation towards any form of market intervention remains, for now.

So ended my time at the ILS and in North America and my impending 40-hour journey home coming up in just a few hours. I have made many new connections, learned new ideas and skills and made new friends in many new places. I couldn’t be more grateful to the Mannkal Foundation for this opportunity and I hope to take my learned skills into meaningful future endeavours.