Implications for Social and Economic Development
Chapter 2: Economic Power Structures: Creation and Existence
1. IDENTIFICATION OF ECONOMIC POWER: NEW PARADIGMS In order to understand economic power, and be able to criticize its definition, we must understand its traditional concept and systematic importance in the field of law that was classically dedicated to its study: antitrust law.1 Once this is acknowledged, its concept can be discussed. To determine the concept of economic power, it is important to keep in mind the famous epistemological observation by Karl Popper, according to which certain concepts are so fundamental and constitutive for a science that their definition is axiomatic. The ways in which they were conceived should be questioned, rather than attempting to define them.2 As an example, there is the classic comparison made by B. Russell between the importance of power for the social sciences and of energy for physics. In physics, the question ‘What is energy?’ is a metaphysical question, with no meaning. The correct question should therefore be ‘How is it revealed?’ The same happens with power in the social sciences.3 This observation can be perfectly applied to the antitrust analysis of power in the market. It is not about defining it, but about finding in the economic theory ways of identifying the necessary conditions for its manifestation. Once these conditions are established, it becomes possible to identify, based on the 1 We must first remember that, for antitrust law, economic power is identical to market power. This statement is criticized in this book, but in order to do that, we must first...
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