Expert Failure and The Intellectual Crisis of American Public Administration

How The “Fatal Conceit” Continues to Threaten Liberal Democracy

Originally published in Cosmos and Taxis

Roger Koppl’s Expert Failure (2018) is an outstanding contribution to the epistemic turn in political economy. Koppl draws on the work of Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann (1966) and F. A. Hayek (1945) to build an argument that subtly moves the discussion on expert knowledge from the incentive structure faced to the social epistemology under alternative institutional arrangements for public policy. In so doing, Koppl doesn’t reject either the idea that some actors through specialization earn the authority as “experts” or the idea that incentives play a significant role in any assessment of alternative institutional arrangements. But, his emphasis throughout is how this expert knowledge is both generated and utilized in society in the relationship between experts and citizens in a society of free and responsible individuals.

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