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Morality and Value Neutrality in Economics: A Dualist View

Li, Cheng (2015): Morality and Value Neutrality in Economics: A Dualist View.

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Abstract

In this paper, we argue that economics exhibits the properties of both moral science and value-free technique, thereby establishing a dualist view on the two identities of economics. This duality is implied by the fundamental logic of the economic way of thinking − investigating human behavior upon the means-end rationality principle. In this view, on the one hand, economics behaves as a moral science for two reasons: all economic theories and policy discussions are necessarily based on some moral premises about means-end considerations; economics as an analytical approach can be and has been applied to explanations of a wide range of ethical issues. On the other hand, economics remains neutral regarding judgmental positions. This is because economists cannot deal with the comparisons and choices among different value criteria, unless some ethical presuppositions of higher order are given to them. Therefore, economics is indeed featured by both morality and value neutrality.

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