Two weeks ago I had an exchange with Kevin Munger on economic imperialism. He’s now written some more on economics, and there’ve simultaneously been some other interesting contributions. He didn’t really speak to my arguments, but he did call me “incurious and self-satisfied”, and like all good insults, this encouraged me to think more so as to find a good retort.
Research is bought by the community and supplied by the social science industry. This recent debate, along with some others, is about how to organize and regulate this industry. Two sets of interests are at play here: the interests of the broader community in high quality social science; and the interests of the research industry itself. How should these be balanced? Which should dominate? And which will?
The first question has a simple answer. Trade-offs between the quality of research, and the welfare of social scientists, should always be resolved in favour of research quality.