Value-free paradise is lost. Economists could learn from artists

Annales. Ethics in Economic Life 23 (4):7-33 (2020)
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Abstract

Despite the conclusions from the contemporary philosophy of science, many economists cherish the ideal of positive science. Therefore, value-free economics is still the central paradigm in economics. The first aim of the paper is to investigate economics' axiomatic assumptions from an epistemological perspective. The critical analysis of the literature shows that the positive-normative dichotomy is exaggerated. Moreover, value-free economics is based on normative foundations that have a negative impact on individuals and society. The paper's second aim is to show that economics' normativity is not a problem because the discussion concerning values is possible and unavoidable. In this context, Weber and other methodologists are investigated. The conclusion of the paper is that science can thrive without strict methodological rules thanks to institutional mechanisms. Therefore, economists could learn from artists who accept the world without absolute rules. This perspective opens the possibility for methodological pluralism and normative approaches.

Author's Profile

Aleksander Ostapiuk
Academy of Economics, Wroclaw

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