Posts Tagged ‘expertise’


One of the most studied issues in contemporary economics is the effect of an increase in the minimum wage. But here we have a panel of so-called experts composed of mainstream economists who are uncertain—about whether employment will decrease or output will increase.

Ordinarily, I would applaud a health dose of uncertainty among economists, especially mainstream economists.


But, of course, mainstream economists show themselves to be quite certain about things other than the minimum wage, such as the idea that the median American household, notwithstanding the small increase in household income, is actually much better off.

Just sayin’. . .

Fishy ideas

Posted: 9 November 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Stanley Fish doesn’t have much to offer in terms of ideas about the crisis of the liberal arts—whether about the nature of the crisis or how to solve it. The best he can come up with is a story about a new college (replete with academic gowns) and a reiteration of the idea that colleges and universities are there to advance expert knowledge.

But advancing expert knowledge (and training students to do the same) is not the solution. As Slavoj Žižek explains,

I listened with amazement and great pleasure to the report about how here in the States the universities, which are financed by taxpayers’ money, are more and more used by companies. In Europe, we are even worse. I’ll tell you why. Because they stated clearly the program in Europe. It’s not only this concrete problem—big companies controlling, through money donations, universities. It’s something more fundamental going on. It’s a well-organized, all-European campaign to turn us scientists, human or natural, into experts. The idea is, we have a problem—let’s say oil spill in Louisiana—oh, we need experts to tell us how to contain it. We have a public disorder, demonstrations; we need psychologists and so on. This is not thinking. What universities should do is not serve as experts to those in power who define the problems. We should redefine and question the problems themselves. Is this the right perception of the problem? Is this really the problem? We should ask much more fundamental questions.

The corporations and the corporate-state want to buy disciplinary expertise—and many academics are all too willing to provide it (or at least pretend they can). Our task in the academy is something different: “to redefine and question the problems themselves.”

Maybe that’s the idea Stanley is fishing around for.