Earw(h)ig: I Can't Hear You Because Your Ideas are Old
Cambridge Journal of Economics, 2013, vol. 38, pp. 531-544
14 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2015
Date Written: 2013
This paper provides a critical challenge to the Whig view of economic ideas, which holds that good ideas from the past are embodied in the common scientific wisdom. In contrast to this position, we contend that the market for ideas, while no doubt competitive in terms of scientific rivalry, is not free of distortions in the incentives and signals that guide economic scientists. As a result, ideas that are flawed can come to dominate the profession, while useful ideas are left on the proverbial sidewalk of intellectual affairs. The smooth evolution of economic thought from falsehood to truth that underlies the Whig perspective is complicated by both historical circumstances and the intimate relationship between economics and politics that follows from the attraction of public policy for those who enter the discipline.
Keywords: Extended present, Whig and contra-Whig theories of the history of ideas
JEL Classification: B10, B20, B50
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation