Ethics

Meritocracy is Unjust

Meritocracy tends to confuse a very practical sense of merit with a more abstract and moral one. An individual may deserve a high-paying job or admission to a selective college because they are productive or qualified. However, in a moral sense, individuals do not merit the skills and abilities they are born with, nor do they merit the environments they were born into that allowed them to develop those skills.

Non-Market Values and Policy Analysis

Many of the things that are most valuable in life are not things that can be traded on the market. Love, friendship, the respect of your peers, and a sense of belonging are all incredibly important parts of life, and they’re also impossible to incorporate into economic analysis. Now, since they’re not economic goods, it normally wouldn’t be a problem that they aren’t subject to economic analysis. Unfortunately, economists have not been content to restrict themselves to economic goods, but instead attempt to provide analysis of public policy choices using economic methods.

What is Education For?

STEM often (at the undergraduate level) teaches a certain type of thinking, which is a very effective and practical way to solve problems. STEM fields seek answers, while the humanities focus first on training students to ask the correct questions, and to take an extremely broad view of any problem. A lot of damage has been done by narrow, practical solutions. The technology we have is an engineering marvel, and the economic abundance we possess is a tribute to the efficiency of solving practical problems. And yet for all our abundance we still have massive poverty and environmental degradation, as well as a society that is becoming increasingly polarized, distrustful, and distant.

Market Norms are Crowding out Social Norms

Imagine you are going over to a friend’s house for a nice dinner. You want to show appreciation for the lovely meal they’ve prepared for you, and you have a few options. You can offer to have them over for dinner in the future. You can bring a bottle of wine or a six pack of beer. You can simply say thank you and tell them what a lovely evening you have had.