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Reckoning with MarketsThe Role of Moral Reflection in Economics$
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James Halteman and Edd S. Noell

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199763702

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199763702.001.0001

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On Methods and Morals

On Methods and Morals

(p.130) Chapter 7 On Methods and Morals
Reckoning with Markets

James Halteman

Edd Noell

Oxford University Press

Is economics like car building or car repair? Are we working toward a finished product, or are we attempting to answer pertinent questions that arise and change from time to time? These questions are entertained in this chapter in order to explore the nature of the methods economists employ. The subjective nature of data and the relevance of predicting from past trendsis explored. The proof that rational choice analysis predicts better than any alternative process is seen to be less than definitive by typical standards of proof. Welfare economics comes closest to philosophy when it optimizes social welfare with a social welfare function, but the ramifications of that model are rarely explored. Finally, it is suggested that key questions change and economic thinking then adapts to deal with the new challenges. The vignette for this chapter looks at John Maynard Keynes and his rethinking of mainstream macroeconomics.

Keywords:   economic methodology, rational choice, pareto optimality, homo economicus, fact-value distinction, social welfare function

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