The Laws of Knowledge, Knowledge of Laws: A “Political Epistemology” Perspective on Pistor’s The Code of Capital

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This commentary, part of the book symposium on Katharina Pistor's The Code of Capital, focuses in particular on the epistemic dimensions of the phenomena she describes. Knowledge can be coded as capital, through intellectual property rights, and these can be done in ways that unjustly favor privileged actors at the cost of the common good, as Pistor demonstrates with regard to the patenting of genetic markers. Interestingly, however, knowledge can also be appropriated without the use of legal tools, simply by appropriating data from consumers, as Zuboff, for example, has argued. A second epistemic dimension of Pistor's work lies in the fact that the legal coding of capital is itself little know and receives little public discussion. This, of course, plays into the hands of those who benefit by problematic forms of such coding. By putting these issues up for debate, The Code of Capital fulfill itself an important epistemic role, which can be categorized as a form of "democratic professionalism", i.e., professionals enabling a critical public discourse about the activities in their own field.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20200064
Pages (from-to)27-35
Number of pages9
JournalAccounting, Economics and Law: A Convivium
Issue number1
Early online date7-Sep-2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Capital
  • democratic professionalism
  • political epistemology

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