Economists dig incentives. Ask one a question about behavior and the economist will first consider the incentives that are at work.
Economics is often chided for only caring about incentives. There are other motives, like obligations or ethics, that guide people’s behavior.
Tyler also thinks [moving to a free access system] would reduce the problems associated with getting good reviewers. Since there are few incentives for reviewing anyway, we could simply bypass reviewing and allow the attention market to decide which papers were worth something. Henry is skeptical that there is a reviewer problem to worry about. People don’t review papers because they have incentives, he thinks; they review because it is normatively appropriate to do so.
Now here’s where I make an ass out of myself. Isn’t an obligation or a norm just a type of incentive? Surely these things don’t come with an infinite cost if they’re not obliged. As such, the individual’s behavior can still be analyzed as-if he’s analyzing the cost and benefits of breaking the norm/obligation.
“Aha”, the social scientists\economists ((That’s the set minus operator. Ain’t I clever.)) respond, “but treating those things as just other types of incentives isn’t parsimonious! Its not realistic!” To which, I reply, “I have a nice Friedman article from the 50’s for you to read.”