Arthur M. Diamond, Jr., Openness to Creative Destruction Sustaining Innovative Dynamism. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2019 [Book Review]

Journal of Value Inquiry 57 (3):581-592 (2021)
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The Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is 90 percent effective in protecting against COVID-19. It would not have been possible without the tireless effort of Professor Katalin Karikó, a scientific innovator fitting the mold of dynamic inventor Arthur Diamond presents in his book, Openness to Creative Destruction Sustaining Innovative Dynamism. Not only did Professor Karikó persist in her beliefs in the therapeutic potential of synthetic messenger RNA over the course of four decades, but she did so despite the criticisms of other scientists and despite lack of financial backing for large parts of her career. Professor Karikó is a good example of the unconventional picture that Diamond paints of entrepreneurs in a specific version of market capitalism he terms, innovative dynamism. Specifically, she is an example of someone who does not hold prevailing academic theories in too high a regard and instead privileges her tacit knowledge (knowledge gained from years of working with mRNA in the lab) to persist believing in the potential of a therapy that now could quite literally save the world. Most surprisingly, she, like most of the entrepreneurs surveyed in the book, seem not primarily motivated by profit, though the money their projects eventually attract is integral to disseminating their creative ideas to the masses. Are the many examples offered by Diamond that are similar to Professor Karikó’s story evidence against the long-standing suspicion that there is something morally damning in the self-interested motivations of innovative entrepreneurship? Is it the case that others would have inevitably pursued the cure that Karikó pursued, regardless of economic system? In light of COVID-19 and other high-pressure situations, ought we to care how we constrain the innovators who develop solutions? Diamond’s case for the economic system, innovative dynamism, seeks to answer these and other important questions concerning our political and cultural treatment of innovators and entrepreneurs. This review critically assesses his efforts. I make my case by first reviewing the major argumentative structure of the book, then I summarize and evaluate the three major themes Diamond presents in the book: (1) what is innovative dynamism and who are its competitors, (2) what are the major benefits of innovative dynamism, (3) who is the innovative entrepreneur and how do we support him or her?

Author's Profile

Kelly Kate Evans
Baylor University


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