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

  • Julie A. Nelson

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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Paper provided by GDAE, Tufts University in its series GDAE Working Papers with number 09-03.

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Handle: RePEc:dae:daepap:09-03
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  1. Putnam, Hilary & Walsh, Vivian, 2007. "A Response To Dasgupta," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(03), pages 359-364, November.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  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. 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.
  6. Nelson, Julie A., 2006. "Economics for Humans," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780226572024.
  7. William D. Nordhaus, 2006. "The "Stern Review" on the Economics of Climate Change," NBER Working Papers 12741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Dasgupta, Partha, 2007. "Reply To Putnam And Walsh," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(03), pages 365-372, November.
  10. Sandra Harding, 1995. "Can feminist thought make economics more objective?," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 7-32.
  11. Kevin P. Gallagher & Francisco Aguayo & Ana Citlalic González, . "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.
  12. Caplin, Andrew & Schotter, Andrew, 2008. "The Foundations of Positive and Normative Economics: A Handbook," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195328318, March.
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