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Values, Norms & Ideology in Mainstream Economics
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy.
2002 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Is economics a value-free science? Defenders of the view that it is admit that there have been failures to keep valuations and norms out but claim that economics is nevertheless essentially value-free. Critics, on the other hand, claim that economics is not and cannot be value-free. The purpose of this thesis is to find out whether there are explicit or implicit valuations or norms in neoclassical mainstream microeconomics, whether they are avoidable or not, and whether neoclassical microeconomics is ideologically relevant.

The initial chapters contain preparatory work: I first give a basic introduction to economic theory and methodology, and discuss some of the critique that has been raised against neoclassical economics. I then examine what it means for something to be explicit or implicit in a text or theory, and thereafter I clarify my use of some of the central terms in this thesis, such as "valuation", "norm", "value-free", and "ideologically relevant".

The examination of the occurrence of valuations and norms in neoclassical microeconomics is divided into two major parts. The first part deals with the value-question in a general manner, which makes it relevant to science in general. This part especially concerns the possibility and avoidability of valuations and norms (1) in the research process and (2) in the scientific product. Along with this, I look at the ideological relevance of choices made in the research process and of the sciences’ producing the results they do. The second part is specifically concerned with economic theory. Two concepts central to neoclassical microeconomics are examined: "stability" and "efficiency". I first study their counterparts in ordinary language. Thereafter I examine the specific uses of the terms in economics.

I conclude that economics can never be completely value-free, but that critics of the idea of value-free science have exaggerated both the extent and the importance of this conclusion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Filosofiska institutionen , 2002. , 230 p.
Keyword [en]
Philosophy, economics, efficiency, equilibrium, extrascientific, ideology, ideologically relevant, implicit, intrascientific, model, neoclassical, norm, preference, stability, valuation, value-free
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Research subject
Practical Philosophy
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-2771OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-2771DiVA: diva2:162099
Public defence
2002-11-16, Sal 9, Universitetshuset, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2002-10-24 Created: 2002-10-24Bibliographically approved

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