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Ideology and Intention: Moral Imperatives and the Practice of Economics

  • David Donald

    (Glasgow Caledonian University)

  • Alan Hutton

    (Glasgow Caledonian University)

Those who practice economics have moral responsibilities in their professional capacity. An alternative economics literature advances the discipline as both a "moral science" (e.g. Boulding, 1969) and "necessarily ideological" (eg. Heilbroner, 1988). We suggest why, in present circumstances, ethics and ideology should - and probably will - be given greater weight in economic practice. In particular we perceive both ecological threats and international tensions as sources of new realignments in economic thought and action. This contention has implications for methods: social economists must be concerned with the manner in which "values are authoritatively allocated" - eschewing what Boulding described as "the immaculate conception of the indifference curve"; and, with even greater generality, they should be aware of the moral and political import of the gestalt which their systemic presentation of the world promotes. In summary they must consider the ways in which their own work creates, reinforces and / or transmits values. Such ethical concerns are intrinsic to the notion of 'a profession'.

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Paper provided by SCEME in its series SCEME Working Papers: Advances in Economic Methodology with number 030/2009.

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Length: 16 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:sti:wpaper:030/2009
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