Economics vs. Philosophy: What's Scarce, and How It's Rationed
By Bryan Caplan
Reflection #1 inspired by the Social Philosophy and Policy conference:
In academic economics, the ultimate scarce good is the right to write pieces in plain English for top journals. We ration it by putting economists famous for their mathematical and statistical publications at the top of the queue.
In academic philosophy, the ultimate scarce good is the right to make big claims without argument, as in “It’s obvious,” “That’s daft,” and “You’re crazy.” They ration it by reserving this right for philosophers famous for their complex philosophical arguments. Profs and grad students alike confirmed my suspicion that a low-status philosopher who usurped this right would suffer swift rebuke from his professional community.
Unintended consequence: Conferences for elite philosophers have a surprisingly high ratio of ex cathedra pronouncements to arguments.