The imperial science

Laurence Iannaccone on the taboos that keep “strong churches” (i.e., sect-like ones) together (via Virginia Postrel. They keep free riders out, to put it roughly.

Economics is the imperial science, for a good reason. Economics has exported its methods, constructs and approaches to all realms of social science; they have proven extremely fruitful. The reason, perhaps, is that a good economist must be a Renaissance person of sorts; hence the ability to generate universally applicable concepts.

More from VPostrel:

Devout Christians like Hugh have a tendency to equate morality, which is universal, with mitzvot (or taboos), which are particular and serve to establish and reinforce ties to a tribe or community of faith.

Very well put.

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