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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Drakopoulos, Stavros A., 1997. "Origins and Development of the Trend towards Value-Free Economics," MPRA Paper 15245, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:15245
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/15245/1/MPRA_paper_15245.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Drakopoulos, Stavros A., 1989. "The Historical Perspective of the Problem of Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," MPRA Paper 28996, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Leamer, Edward E, 1983. "Let's Take the Con Out of Econometrics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 31-43, March.
    3. Loomes, Graham & Sugden, Robert, 1983. "A Rationale for Preference Reversal," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 428-432, June.
    4. Thomas Mayer, 1992. "Truth versus precision in economics," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 307.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stavros Drakopoulos & Ioannis Katselidis, 2015. "From Edgeworth to econophysics: a methodological perspective," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(1), pages 77-95, March.
    2. Drakopoulos, Stavros A., 2007. "Normative Issues In Marginalism: The Case Of P. Wicksteed," MPRA Paper 6684, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. James E. Alvey, 2011. "A Short History of Ethics and Economics," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 12674.
    4. Drakopoulos, Stavros A., 2014. "Mathematical Psychics and Hydraulics: The Methodological Influence of Edgeworth and Fisher," MPRA Paper 52981, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Drakopoulos, Stavros A., 2010. "The history of the mainstream rejection of interdependent preferences," MPRA Paper 23980, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Drakopoulos, Stavros A. & Katselidis, Ioannis, 2017. "The Relationship between Psychology and Economics: Insights from the History of Economic Thought," MPRA Paper 77485, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • B00 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - General - - - History of Economic Thought, Methodology, and Heterodox Approaches
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology

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