The Constitution of Economic Expertise: Social Science in the Public Square, Past and Present

Christian Libertarian Review, Forthcoming

21 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2017 Last revised: 1 Nov 2018

See all articles by Alexander William Salter

Alexander William Salter

Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business; American Institute for Economic Research

Date Written: October 30, 2018

Abstract

What determines the kinds of questions economists ask and the answers they find convincing? More generally, why are the institutions that constitute scholarly economics the way they are? I answer both of these questions by positing that within the modern economics profession, it is plausible that economic ideas compete on margins unrelated to truth. The adaptive value of certain kinds of economics can explain the prevalence of the economics that is currently practiced. Since survivability and adaptability are inherently related to the process that yields them, I explore the history of the economics profession in the United States, tracing it back to the earliest days of US higher education. This perspective strongly suggests we should be skeptical of the argument that modern economics has “passed the market test.”

Keywords: Academy, bureaucracy, economics profession, managerial state, New England tradition, progressivism, Whig history

JEL Classification: A11, A13, A14, B00, B50, H11

Suggested Citation

Salter, Alexander William, The Constitution of Economic Expertise: Social Science in the Public Square, Past and Present (October 30, 2018). Christian Libertarian Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2925241 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2925241

Alexander William Salter (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business ( email )

Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

HOME PAGE: http://awsalter.com

American Institute for Economic Research

PO Box 1000
Great Barrington, MA 01230
United States

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