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Ideology and Intention: Moral Imperatives and the Practice of Economics

David Donald and Alan Hutton

No 030/2009, SCEME Working Papers: Advances in Economic Methodology from SCEME

Abstract: Those who practice economics have moral responsibilities in their professional capacity. An alternative economics literature advances the discipline as both a "moral science" (e.g. Boulding, 1969) and "necessarily ideological" (eg. Heilbroner, 1988). We suggest why, in present circumstances, ethics and ideology should - and probably will - be given greater weight in economic practice. In particular we perceive both ecological threats and international tensions as sources of new realignments in economic thought and action. This contention has implications for methods: social economists must be concerned with the manner in which "values are authoritatively allocated" - eschewing what Boulding described as "the immaculate conception of the indifference curve"; and, with even greater generality, they should be aware of the moral and political import of the gestalt which their systemic presentation of the world promotes. In summary they must consider the ways in which their own work creates, reinforces and / or transmits values. Such ethical concerns are intrinsic to the notion of 'a profession'.

Keywords: ethics; social economics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B41 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 16 pages
Date: 2009-02
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hpe and nep-pke
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