Economic Writing on the Pressing Problems of the Day: The Roles of Moral Intuition and Methodological Confusion

La Revue de Philosophie Economique/Review of Economic Philosophy, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 37-68, December 2010

24 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2009 Last revised: 19 Nov 2011

See all articles by Julie A. Nelson

Julie A. Nelson

University of Massachusetts at Boston - Department of Economics; Tufts University - Global Development and Environment Institute

Date Written: April 4, 2009

Abstract

Economists are often called on to help address pressing problems of the day, yet many economists are uncomfortable about disclosing the values that they bring to this work. This essay explores how an inadequate understanding of the role of methodology, as related to ethics and human emotions of concern, underlies this reluctance and compromises the quality of economic advice. The tension between caring about the problems, on the one hand, and writing within the existing culture of the discipline, on the other, are illustrated with examples from U.S. policymaking, behavioral economics, and the economics of climate change and global poverty. Potential steps towards a more responsible, "strongly objective," and policy-useful economics are discussed.

Keywords: economics, ethics, policy, methodology, climate change, financial crisis, poverty, inequality, feminist economics

JEL Classification: A11, A13, D63, D64, B41

Suggested Citation

Nelson, Julie A., Economic Writing on the Pressing Problems of the Day: The Roles of Moral Intuition and Methodological Confusion (April 4, 2009). La Revue de Philosophie Economique/Review of Economic Philosophy, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 37-68, December 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1373027

Julie A. Nelson (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts at Boston - Department of Economics ( email )

100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.umb.edu/academics/cla/dept/economics/faculty/facultyNelson.html

Tufts University - Global Development and Environment Institute ( email )

MA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/about_us/researchers.html#nelson

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