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Origins and Development of the Trend towards Value-Free Economics

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  • Drakopoulos, Stavros A.

Abstract

The vast majority of pre-Classical and of many Classical economists thought that it was natural to incorporate value judgments and norms in their economic reasoning. However, there was a gradual dominance of the idea of a neutral or value-free economic science which gained momentum with the second Marginalist generation. More specifically, clear signs of this tendency can be found in the works of Sidgwick, Pareto and Fisher. The paper examines the process of this change and provides possible justifications. In particular, the work discusses this trend with reference to the growing influence of classical physics, and positivist philosophies of science. Consequently, the paper shows that there was a gradual broadening of the meaning of the term “value judgments” to include mental states and motivations. These developments are essential in the understanding of the formation of the standard economic theory and especially of microeconomic theory.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 15245.

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Date of creation: 1997
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Publication status: Published in Journal of the History of Economic Thought 2.19(1997): pp. 286-300
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:15245

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Keywords: Economic Methodology; Values and Economics; History of Economic Thought;

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References

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  1. Edward E. Leamer, 1982. "Let's Take the Con Out of Econometrics," UCLA Economics Working Papers, UCLA Department of Economics 239, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Loomes, Graham & Sugden, Robert, 1983. "A Rationale for Preference Reversal," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 428-32, June.
  3. Drakopoulos, Stavros A., 1989. "The Historical Perspective of the Problem of Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," MPRA Paper 28996, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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Cited by:
  1. Drakopoulos, Stavros A., 2010. "The history of the mainstream rejection of interdependent preferences," MPRA Paper 23980, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Drakopoulos, Stavros A., 2007. "Normative Issues In Marginalism: The Case Of P. Wicksteed," MPRA Paper 6684, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Drakopoulos, Stavros A. & Katselidis, Ioannis, 2013. "From Edgeworth to Econophysics: A Methodological Perspective," MPRA Paper 46975, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Drakopoulos, Stavros A., 2014. "Mathematical Psychics and Hydraulics: The Methodological Influence of Edgeworth and Fisher," MPRA Paper 52981, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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