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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Conflicts of Interest and Paradigm-Shifts: The Case of Financial Regulation

It is perhaps all too easy to perceive a sea-change in perception when the reality of societal change is much more gradual. There is something to the argument that John D. Rockefeller’s reputation was salvaged in the 1930s not because the old man was passing out dimes, but, rather, simply because he had outlived his critics. Similarly, Thomas Kuhn, in his text on paradigm changes in scientific revolutions, bemoans that the advocates of a default theory must finally die off before their darling can finally be replaced by a new one. In other words, any given person is not apt to shift paradigms. The culprit, I suspect, is pride, which Augustine suggests in his writings is inherently self-idolatrous. I believe the human brain is capable of accepting inter-paradigmatic change, just as a person can be humble. That this is not the norm does not mean that we ought not raise our expectations to it.

The full essay is at Institutional Conflicts of Interest, available in print and as an ebook at Amazon.