Fact-Value Confusion Driving Methodological Error in Macroeconomic Theory


This paper aims to show errors in common methodology of reasoning about macroeconomic theory. The error comes from confusion about descriptive and scientific methods of inquiry being used as a means of justifying conclusions with a normative basis. I will argue that many tools used in theorizing about the political economy that are thought of as able to express an isolated variable proving a normative point, actually contain normative assumptions which impact the soundness of the conclusion. The hidden values generally serve to justify the status quo. Looking at my argument from a metaperspective, I argue that some popular methodology winds up in the general state of circular reasoning. I will try to weave two arguments together, the first is showing how economic concepts are value-laden, and also that they are implicit values of ideology, and operate as a powerful tool for the status quo. The ideology learns that things must be what they are, because the rest of the ideology seeks to justify it. There is both a factual and a value-driven thesis to this paper. Using examples I show how economic concepts that are thought of as being value neutral, are actually implicitly holding values that uphold the status quo and the growing tides of income inequality. I also wish to demonstrate how ideology constructs the common understanding, and how this effort keeps the populace from seeking emancipatory economic ideals and tax reform.

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