Against Expertism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Escaping Paternalism's critique of the rationality assumption vindicates von Mises' distinction between egalitarian contracts and hierarchical commands, revealing "libertarian paternalism"as an oxymoron. Putting Escaping Paternalism in a zoological context lets us see in "contract and coordination"status acquired by freely given prestige and in "command and subordination"status acquired by forcefully extracted dominance. Libertarian paternalism is a form of dominance. Thus, the "zoological perspective in the social sciences"extends Rizzo and Whitman's critique of rationality and helps clarify "expertism,"that is, the attempt to acquire "dominance"by leveraging "prestige."Humans have both an apish disposition to create linear dominance hierarchies and a disposition to form reverse dominance hierarchies. It is undecided whether we can strengthen reverse dominance hierarchies enough to prevent the boots of the few forever stamping on the faces of the many. It is undecided whether the liberal vision of egalitarian cooperation can prevail. But it's worth fighting for.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-377
Number of pages17
JournalReview of Behavioral Economics
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Paternalism
  • dominance
  • expert
  • expertism
  • experts
  • prestige
  • rationality
  • reverse dominance hierarchies
  • status
  • zoological perspective in social science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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