Osynlig hand i vetenskapen

I ”The ‘Science-as-Market’ Analogy: A Constitutional Economics Perspective” diskuterar professor Viktor Vanberg hur vetenskapen och marknaden kan ledas att generara allmännyttiga utfall. Idén uttrycks på detta vis:

Market and science are games of competition. In both realms, the engine that drives the evolutionary invisible-hand process is the competing ambitions of rewardseeking agents. And in both realms competition is not unbounded but is constitutionally constrained, subject to rules that can be more or less suitable in channeling the participants’ ambitions in socially productive directions.”

Reglerna för vetenskapen är av två slag: dels de interna (den vetenskapliga metoden, såsom den uttolkas inom vetenskapen) och dels de externa (finansiärernas krav). Gällande nationalekonomin återger Vanberg en kritik mot den långt drivna matematiseringen, som genom sin världsfrånvändhet indikerar att de interna reglerna inte är i linje med de externa:

According to authors like Cassidy, Frey, Mirowski and Mayer it is the desire to raise their status by turning their discipline into a branch of applied mathematics that has lead economists to adopt selection principles that are counterproductive, both with regard to the outside reputation of their profession and with regard to its contribution to the growth of knowledge.”

Intressant nog tycks nationalekonomin (återigen) nu utvecklas i mer empirisk riktning. Och i grunden är Vanberg optimistisk om den långsiktiga utvecklingen:

The principles of selection that prevail in research institutes and universities, the constraints that national rules and regulations define for scientific work, and conventions that come to prevail in professions such as economics may be dysfunctional, but man’s ineradicable interest in knowing how the world around him works will be an incessant force that tends to select in favor of more informative theories, and stubborn reality will be an inescapable ultimate selector between conjectures that are compatible with the facts and those that are not. Globally and in the long run the capacity of markets to serve consumer interests and the capacity of science to advance the growth of knowledge appear to be quite robust, even though the constitutional requirements for their flourishing may be unevenly met in different locations and at different times.”

Jag delar den optimismen, både för marknaden och vetenskapen.