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Academic: Legal Theory Blog
Pozen on Norm Entrepreneurs
By Lawrence Solum
David Pozen (Yale Law) has posted We Are All Entrepreneurs Now on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
A funny thing happened to the entrepreneur in legal, business, and social science scholarship. She strayed from her capitalist roots, took on more and more functions that have little to do with starting or running a business, and became wildly popular in the process. Nowadays, "social entrepreneurs" tackle civic problems through innovative methods, "policy entrepreneurs" promote new forms of government action, "norm entrepreneurs" seek to change the way society thinks or behaves, and "moral entrepreneurs" try to alter the boundaries of duty or compassion. "Ethnification entrepreneurs," "polarization entrepreneurs," and other newfangled spinoffs pursue more discrete objectives. Entrepreneurial rhetoric has never been so trendy or so plastic. This Article documents the proliferation of entrepreneurs in the American academic idiom, and it offers some reflections on the causes and consequences of this trend.
And from the text:
Policy, norm, and moral entrepreneurship, on the other hand, often pit one set of political or normative claims against the regnant set, with the result that one side?s gain will represent the other side?s loss. Think of a consumer safety group advocating stricter automobile crash-test requirements (against the desires of the manufacturers and some future purchasers) or an evangelical religious group advocating for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage (against the profound desires of many non-evangelicals). Rarely in this world are regulatory or sociocultural changes Paretooptimal, or even close, which makes policy, norm, and moral entrepreneurship essentially redistributive endeavors. These sorts of tradeoffs are especially endemic in the world of policy entrepreneurship, orbiting as it does around competing political parties. It may be the case that some, perhaps even the majority, of successful policy, norm, and moral entrepreneurship will move society toward positions that are in some sense objectively superior?although there will often be measurement and commensurability problems here that are not present when the sole metric of evaluation is economic efficiency?but there is nothing intrinsic to these pursuits that can assure such an outcome. They may be just as likely to generate rent-seeking as to generate welfare enhancement or moral progress.
I really enjoyred this paper--but I wonder just a teensy bit about the extension of economics talk to the world of ideas. Is the idea of "pareto efficiency" or "redistribution" coherent if we are discussing changes in moral beliefs?
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