Epistemic Worries about Economic Expertise
Chapter, Peer reviewed
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Original versionHolst C, Molander A: Epistemic Worries about Economic Expertise. In: Fossum JE, Batora J. Towards a Segmented European Political Order. The European Union's Post-crises Conundrum, 2019. Routledge
The focus of the chapter will be on this epistemic worry. We show that the substantive involvement of economic experts in policy-making raises some real epistemic concerns. However, we move beyond the uneasiness that many critics articulate, and present a list of ten discrete claims: (1) that we cannot know who the “real” or “best” economic experts are; (2) that all political decisions, including those on economic policy, have moral dimensions and that there is no moral expertise; (3) that proper economic expertise is only possible under conditions of “normal science” and political “well orderedness”; (4) that economists, like laypeople, make cognitive errors; (5) that economists, representing a particular disciplinary perspective and epistemic cultures, are one-eyed, overstretch their competence and fail to see their own perspective as one of many relevant perspectives; (6) that economists may be influenced by self-interest, or (7) have ideological commitments that bias their judgements; (8) that we cannot be sure that economic experts speak truth to power; (9) that economists often lack the competence (or willingness) to translate their expert knowledge to make it understandable for policy-makers and concerned citizens; and, finally, (10) that economic experts do not understand the logic of politics and lack good political judgement.