Ideologies, Institutions, and Interests: Why Economic Ideas Don’t Compete on a Level Playing Field

21 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2019

See all articles by Justin T Callais

Justin T Callais

Texas Tech University - Free Market Institute; Texas Tech University, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Students

Alexander William Salter

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

Date Written: March 26, 2019

Abstract

The term “marketplace of ideas” is thoroughly misleading. This phrase is often used to suggest that bad ideas are “defeated” by better ideas in public discourse. In the field of economics, for example, it is commonly assumed that the mainstream, precisely because it is the mainstream, has defeated less worthy rivals. But the extension of the competitive metaphor from markets to ideas is fraught with peril. Markets presuppose some institutional foundation that governs the exchange process. What ensures that market competition is socially beneficial is a strong tendency for good products and firms to succeed over bad and corrupt ones. While it is true ideas compete, the institutional arrangements governing the selection of ideas looks quite different than that which underlies markets. Ideas are subscribed to by individuals; individuals interact with a wide array of overlapping institutions; –institutions select for outcomes on margins unrelated to truth. To demonstrate this, we explore the relationship between the economics profession and the state We categorize this relationship as a spontaneous order, and discuss the resulting implications.

Keywords: economics profession, state, academics, marketplace of ideas, Keynesian, Progressivism

JEL Classification: A11, H10

Suggested Citation

Callais, Justin and Salter, Alexander William, Ideologies, Institutions, and Interests: Why Economic Ideas Don’t Compete on a Level Playing Field (March 26, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3360545 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3360545

Justin Callais (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University - Free Market Institute ( email )

Box 45059
Lubbock, TX 79409-5059
United States

Texas Tech University, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Students ( email )

Box 42132
Lubbock, TX 79409-2132
United States

Alexander William Salter

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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