Lisa Herzog on "The Epistemic Seduction of Markets" (in The Raven)
December 14, 2021
In the inaugural issue of The Raven, a literary philosophy magazine*, Lisa Herzog (University of Groningen) combines academic expertise and personal history to scrutinize knowledge-based arguments for the market in "The Epistemic Seduction of Markets." From the end of her introduction:
I have concluded that the epistemic argument for markets needs to be heavily qualified, if not put on its head: it is not an argument for “free” markets but for the careful regulation of markets. The “invisible hand” can only, if ever, do its work on material that has been diligently prepared, and continues to be monitored, by many visible hands. Otherwise, the result may be a mere chimera of the epistemic mechanism that I learned about when studying economics: it may seem to work fine on the surface but fail to realize the goals it is supposed to achieve, such as genuine preference satisfaction and the avoidance of inefficient economic behavior. This misleading image of the market can keep us trapped when we think about institutional design, inserting a pro-market bias instead of allowing for an objective evaluation of alternatives. And given the need to redesign many economic institutions in the face of climate change and massive socio-economic inequality, we cannot afford to be held captive by a picture, as Wittgenstein had once put it.
An intriguing read, and just one part of an encouraging start for a unique new publication.
* From the "About" page on their website:
The Raven is a magazine of original philosophy written for intellectually curious readers with or without academic training in the discipline. It aims to revive an essayistic style of philosophy that was more common in academic venues as recently as thirty years ago but has gradually disappeared — that is, to publish contributions to the “literature” that deserve to be called literature.