Tuesday , June 28 2022
Home / Real-World Economics Review / In economics value-neutrality is an illusion

In economics value-neutrality is an illusion

Summary:
From Peter Söderbaum I am a professor emeritus with many years of experience of the functioning of university departments of economics and other social science disciplines, such as business management. As has already been made clear I consider the close-to-monopoly position of neoclassical theory at university departments of economics as a major problem in relation to aspirations of sustainable development. The two “facts” that (a) values are necessarily involved in research and education and (b) those employed at university departments of economics live in democratic societies – means that economics (in democratic societies) cannot be reduced to a centre of propaganda for those values that are built into the neoclassical paradigm. A degree of pluralism in education and research

Topics:
Editor considers the following as important:

This could be interesting, too:

John Quiggin writes What I’ve been doing and saying

Dean Baker writes Neoliberals do not like a free market, but they want you to think they do

John Quiggin writes Would Democratic Socialism be Better?

Lars Pålsson Syll writes Mainstream economics — the art of building fantasy worlds

from Peter Söderbaum

I am a professor emeritus with many years of experience of the functioning of university departments of economics and other social science disciplines, such as business management. As has already been made clear I consider the close-to-monopoly position of neoclassical theory at university departments of economics as a major problem in relation to aspirations of sustainable development. The two “facts” that (a) values are necessarily involved in research and education and (b) those employed at university departments of economics live in democratic societies – means that economics (in democratic societies) cannot be reduced to a centre of propaganda for those values that are built into the neoclassical paradigm. A degree of pluralism in education and research becomes the natural response. Value-neutrality is an illusion and there are many reasons to listen to the voices of students and other actors, politicians included, who understand that the present monopoly is dysfunctional for society at large. Professors of economics have no right to exclude competing theoretical perspectives connected with other ideological orientations, such as sustainable development.

Criteria when appointing professors and PhD-students have to be reconsidered, and institutions that support a continued monopoly for neoclassical economics have to be reorganized or eliminated. I am thinking of the “Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel”. With few exceptions this award has been given to neoclassical economists, many of them from Chicago University. It is difficult to understand the value of their contributions, but it is clear that the neoclassical monopoly is protected. A lot of prestige (cognitive and emotional commitments included) is behind the fact that the Swedish Academy of Sciences has not reconsidered or eliminated the award in spite of recurrent criticism.

Economics plays a central role when governing societies and nothing is wrong in rewarding economists for their scientific and ideological achievements. But economics was not mentioned in the will of Alfred Nobel and considering the unwillingness of leading mainstream economists to admit the ideological nature of their work, the prize in its present form is in my opinion a danger to society. The prize can however be renamed (excluding the reference to Alfred Nobel) and compared to other rewards where the role of ideology is recognized, for example, the Nobel Peace Prize or the Right Livelihood Award.

Economics, ideological orientation and democracy for sustainable development

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *