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09-03 "Economic Writing on the Pressing Problems of the Day: The Roles of Moral Intuition and Methodological Confusion"

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  • Julie A. Nelson

Abstract

Economists are often called on to help address pressing problems of the day, yet many economists are uncomfortable about disclosing the values that they bring to this work. This essay explores how an inadequate understanding of the role of methodology, as related to ethics and human emotions of concern, underlies this reluctance and compromises the quality of economic advice. The tension between caring about the problems, on the one hand, and writing within the existing culture of the discipline, on the other, are illustrated with examples from U.S. policymaking, behavioral economics, and the economics of climate change and global poverty. Potential steps towards a more responsible, "strongly objective," and policy-useful economics are discussed.

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  • Julie A. Nelson, "undated". "09-03 "Economic Writing on the Pressing Problems of the Day: The Roles of Moral Intuition and Methodological Confusion"," GDAE Working Papers 09-03, GDAE, Tufts University.
  • Handle: RePEc:dae:daepap:09-03
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert H. Frank & Thomas Gilovich & Dennis T. Regan, 1993. "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 159-171, Spring.
    2. Julie Nelson, 2007. "Economics for Humans:," Challenge, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(4), pages 17-25.
    3. Caplin, Andrew & Schotter, Andrew, 2008. "The Foundations of Positive and Normative Economics: A Handbook," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195328318.
    4. Dasgupta, Partha, 2005. "What Do Economists Analyze And Why: Values Or Facts?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(02), pages 221-278, October.
    5. Putnam, Hilary & Walsh, Vivian, 2007. "A Response To Dasgupta," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(03), pages 359-364, November.
    6. Sandra Harding, 1995. "Can feminist thought make economics more objective?," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 7-32.
    7. William D. Nordhaus, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 686-702, September.
    8. Martin L. Weitzman, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 703-724, September.
    9. Kevin P. Gallagher & Francisco Aguayo & Ana Citlalic González, "undated". "01-07 "Dirt is in the Eye of the Beholder: The World Bank Air Pollution Intensities for Mexico"," GDAE Working Papers 01-07, GDAE, Tufts University.
    10. Dasgupta, Partha, 2007. "Reply To Putnam And Walsh," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(03), pages 365-372, November.
    11. Hilary Putnam & Vivian Walsh, 2007. "Facts, Theories, Values and Destitution in the Works of Sir Partha Dasgupta," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 181-202.
    12. William D. Nordhaus, 2006. "The "Stern Review" on the Economics of Climate Change," NBER Working Papers 12741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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