IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/mdl/mdlpap/1103.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Creating Humble Economists: A Code of Ethics for Economists

Author

Listed:
  • David Colander

    ()

Abstract

From the movie, Inside Job, one gets the sense that economists are ethically challenged because they take payments for writing papers that say what the funders of their research want them to say. This paper takes issue with that and suggests that the more serious ethical problem of economics has little to do with the funding of economic research. It has to do with lack of humility. It argues that economists have a tendency to convey more scientific certainty in their policy positions than the theory and evidence objectively would allow. Too many economists are willing to make seemingly definitive scientific statements about policy based on models, that they know, or should know, are highly imperfect. To deal with that problem, this paper suggests that applied economists should see themselves as engineers, not as applied scientists. It argues that doing so is important because engineering has a broader and more humble methodology than does science. Because applied economists are essentially engineers, the paper argues that an Economist’s Code of Ethics can be closely based on the National Society of Professional Engineer’s Code of Ethics.

Suggested Citation

  • David Colander, 2011. "Creating Humble Economists: A Code of Ethics for Economists," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 1103, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mdl:mdlpap:1103
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.middlebury.edu/services/econ/repec/mdl/ancoec/1103.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Are economists not humble enough?
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2011-12-08 21:48:00
    2. Do Economists Lie More?
      by UDADISI in udadisi on 2012-02-22 19:29:00

    More about this item

    Keywords

    code of ethics; methodology; science; humility; applied; moral;

    JEL classification:

    • A1 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics
    • B0 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - General
    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. Economic Logic blog

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mdl:mdlpap:1103. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Vijaya Wunnava) or () or () or () or (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.