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Morality and value neutrality in economics: a dualist view

Cheng Li ()

The Journal of Philosophical Economics, 2019, vol. 12, issue 2, 97-118

Abstract: This paper proposes a dualist view that economics exhibits the properties of both moral science and value-neutral approach, regardless of the normative-positive distinction. Our argumentation is derived from the understanding that, analytically, economics is a broadly-defined rational choice theory. As implied by this claim, on the one hand, economics behaves as a moral science for two main reasons: all economic theories and policy discussions are necessarily based on moral premises about means-end considerations; economics as an analytical approach can be and has been applied to explanations of a wide range of moral phenomena. On the other hand, since economists — without being informed of some ethical presuppositions of higher order — cannot deal with the comparisons among different value criteria, their approach remains neutral regarding judgmental positions, which should be given a priori to make economic enquiries possible. Ultimately, by this view we reconcile morality with value neutrality in economics, without slicing the discipline into two distinctive branches.

Keywords: rationality; moral science; value-neutral approach; normative-positive distinction (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Related works:
Working Paper: Morality and Value Neutrality in Economics: A Dualist View (2015) Downloads
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