Tong Zhang

Postdoktorstipendiat - Institutt for finans


For a complete list of my research, see my personal webpage or ResearchGate page.


Zhang, Tong (2024)

The illusion of meritocracy

Social Science Information, 63(1), s. 114- 128. Doi: 10.1177/05390184241230406 - Fulltekst i vitenarkiv

Meritocracy claims to reward the meritorious with more resources, thereby achieving social efficiency and justice in a level playground. This article argues that the rise of meritocracy in a society is the institutional consequence of adopting progressive humanism, an ideal-type worldview that advocates the harmonious co-realization of individual achievement and social contribution. However, meritocracy is a self-defeating illusion because, even in a level playground, it only rewards conspicuous and wasteful display of ‘merit’ rather than genuine contributions to society. Similar to the promise of an afterlife to Catholicism, the illusion of meritocracy constitutes an indispensable theodicy to progressive humanism. For societies holding such worldviews, meritocracy is a necessary illusion that cannot be dispelled by institutional reforms or political movements.

Zhang, Tong (2023)

Critical Realism: A Critical Evaluation

Social Epistemology, 37(1), s. 15- 29. Doi: 10.1080/02691728.2022.2080127 - Fulltekst i vitenarkiv

Critical realism, championed by its proponents as the most promising post-positivist social science paradigm, has gained significant influence in the last few decades. This paper provides a critical evaluation of the critical realism movement in the hope of facilitating more fruitful dialogues between its proponents and rivalling schools of sociologists. Two concerns are raised about contemporary critical realism. First, critical realism is not the only philosophical school against positivism and not necessarily the best. Second, critical realists exaggerate the importance of critical realism to social science and conflate philosophy of science with sociological theories.

Zhang, Tong (2022)

Ethics and Society: A Theory of Comparative Worldviews

Journal of Sociology and Christianity (JSC), 12(2), s. 7- 28. - Fulltekst i vitenarkiv

This article outlines a theist social science paradigm. The central thesis, derived from the assumption of an omnibenevolent and powerful God, is the Law of Divine Selection. It states that the motives of people, or the worldviews they adopt, fundamentally determine their society’s organization and evolution. In particular, the more hedonic or Nietzscheist a society is, the less progressed it will be, and the more ascetic a society is, the more progressed it will be. This provides a consistent and parsimonious explanation of many puzzles in macro-historical studies, among them the Great Divergence between the West and China, the sudden eruption of the two World Wars, and the religious distribution of Nobel Laureates.

Zhang, Tong (2022)

The Logic of Wasteful Production

Journal of Economics, Theology and Religion (JETR), 2(2), s. 51- 66. - Fulltekst i vitenarkiv

Economic neoliberalism promises social efficiency with self-interested participants and free competition. This doctrine is challenged by the extensive production of wasteful goods and services in the contemporary West. By studying three types of wasteful production—conspicuous goods, conspicuous profession, and information overproduction— this article argues that the cause of wasteful production is nothing but the producers’ profit motive. The discussion of wasteful production provides a first attempt to extend Max Weber’s interpretivist sociology to the study of Nietzscheism, an ideal-type worldview preaching self-realization and power struggle. It adds novel empirical and theoretical support to the Weber thesis by showing that ascetic Protestantism facilitates productive efficiency by reducing not only hedonistic idleness and laziness, but also egoistic power-seeking and the induced wasteful production.

Zhang, Tong (2022)

Reinterpreting Science as a Vocation

Max Weber Studies, 22(1), s. 55- 73. Doi: 10.1353/max.2022.0003

Weber’s “science as a vocation” has often been viewed as a therapeutic concept with no functional significance in the fully bureaucratized and professionalized modern science. However, development in the philosophy of science in the last century, especially the Kuhnian thesis of the discontinuity of scientific progress and the Duhem-Quine thesis of underdetermination, shows that Weber’s distinction between science as a vocation and science as a profession (career) can potentially answer one of the oldest questions in science studies: What makes scientific breakthroughs possible?

Zhang, Tong (2021)

Was Weber Really Wrong? A Comment on Some Recent Empirical Studies on Economic Growth

Max Weber Studies, 21(2), s. 203- 212. Doi: 10.1353/max.2021.0022 - Fulltekst i vitenarkiv

In the last two decades, there have been two influential papers in empirical economic growth, Becker and Woessmann (2009) and Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson (2001), which explicitly or implicitly claim that Weber's thesis has been refuted by empirical evidence. This paper argues that their alleged refutation of Weber is achieved by serious distortions and reductions of Weber's thesis combined with a sequence of unsubstantiated extrapolations.

Zhang, Tong (2023)

Ethics and Society: A Theory of Comparative Worldviews

Hiebert, Dennis (red.). The Routledge International Handbook of Sociology and Christianity

Akademisk grad
År Akademisk institusjon Grad
2019 University of Zurich PhD
År Arbeidsgiver Tittel
2019 - Present BI Norwegian Business School Assistant professor