Jack Wright: Hierarchy In Economics: How Social Stratification Affects The Outputs Of Science
Jack Wright is a research associate at the University of Cambridge and a current visiting researcher at the Centre for Philosophy and the Sciences. Jack’s research focusses on the social organisation of science, on the relationship between social scientific knowledge and politics, and on quantitative causal inference in the social sciences.
Are hierarchies in scientific communities problematic? If so, why? In this talk I discuss the social organisation of economics to highlight some of the issues that hierarchies can cause within sciences. I first present evidence to show that large asymmetries of power, status, and influence exist between economists. I then argue that these asymmetries have significant epistemic consequences. By disincentivizing the development of novel research programs, the hierarchical features of economics curtail the development of new beliefs from the discipline. By constraining critical feedback, the hierarchal features of economics make it less likely that errors and faulty reasoning in existing beliefs will be spotted or articulated. This reduces the likelihood that the outputs of economics will be true and reduces the justification we have for believing them. Together the hierarchy in economics, thus, has significant effects on the production of knowledge—as some function of justified true belief—from economics.