Home > Uncategorized > In economics value-neutrality is an illusion

In economics value-neutrality is an illusion

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
  1. May 18, 2022 at 7:09 pm

    This fundamental conflation is widespread among heterodox economists: “values … are built into the neoclassical paradigm” with “Value-neutrality is an illusion”.

    It is really damaging. We should be aiming at uncovering the causal processes underlying how the economy works, which is a property of the economy not of how we would like to analyze it. When we find some feature that we do not like, but is robustly supported by the evidence, we should be reassured that it means we are uncovering real knowledge (“doing science”, if you like that way of putting it), not merely extending a statement of our values to cover various economic phenomena. Obviously, those who differ from us ideologically should also have to accept the evidence they don’t like as well. Everybody should be working towards a situation where we have a body of theory that commands widespread support, including people with widely different political positions and value systems. The attitude should be, like it or not, this is the way the world works.

    By having the position “Value-neutrality is an illusion”, we are downgrading our own interpretation of the causal forces in the economy to being essentially outgrowths of our own ideology, and giving up any claim that it represents reality as it actually exists in the real world.

    This is *not* the same as denying that e.g. sustainable development should be brought more into the economics mainstream. Quite the reverse. By saying that “Value-neutrality is an illusion”, we are letting neoclassical economics off the hook – effectively saying that the destructive nonsense talked by some mainstream economics about climate change (see Steve Keen’s work demolishing this) is ok within their value system. It is a relativist position. I would strongly criticize that view: the over-optimistic take on climate change among certain well-known mainstream economists is wrong in terms of fact, as well as being extremely harmful in value terms. The relativist position removes the crucial observation that it is wrong in fact.

    • Meta Capitalism
      May 20, 2022 at 3:40 pm

      ‘Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed.’
      — Albert Einstein
      .
      ‘Economics is the science of thinking in terms of models joined to the art of choosing models which are relevant to the contemporary world.’
      — John Maynard Keynes

      .
      Economics is a social science. It is not really a controversial statement to recognize that neoliberal (mainstream) economics is not value free (or value neutral). And just because someone claims to be “heterodox” doesn’t mean their theory is “value neutral” either. Recognizing this well documented reality does not let anyone “off the hook”–for exposing the fallacy of their claims–that they are not supported by the empirical evidence–reveals both errors of fact and implicit values as the motivated reasoning behind failure to respect the facts revealed in empirical reality. It certainly does not imply that masquerading ideology, religion, dogma, or pseudoscience as science is acceptable or ok. That economic theory contains both normative claims which carry implicit value judgments and descriptive claims based on facts and evidence is nothing new. That economic theories carry implicit values does not constitute anything “dangerous,” but does recognize empirical human realities. It does not follow logically that to recognize such well documented realities are somehow “downgrading” the search for causes of human socio-economic behavior or necessitates one “give up” the effort to understand how economies “actually” exist and function in the real world. Nor does postmodernist constructivism of necessity follow from such honest acknowledgement of reality. These are illogical non-sequitur arguments. It is a fact many economists find the recognition that the social science of economics is not value neutral uncontroversial.
      .
      Can a social science like economics be value neutral (value free)? Can a social science of economies be developed that is solely empirically-based (i.e., descriptive only with no normative claims) in such a way that it is fundamentally focused on causation such that all theoretical objects would necessarily have counterparts in the real world and be valid to observers across different ideological frameworks (value systems) and therefore be value-free or value neutral (personal communication)?
      .
      The first lesson in philosophy is that one must define one’s terms. The question(s) posed above are full of undefined terms begging further definition. Clearly some think that a value free social science is impossible; others hold out aspirations that such a social science can be discovered. The former need not become social constructivists (although some postmodernists do), but rather view the best we can do is be aware of one’s implicit values and philosophical presuppositions and how they determine what “theoretical objects” (one of those undefined terms) are included and which are excluded in one’s theories. The latter seek to make economics more empirical in the effort to understand the real underlying causes of economics (economics itself being another term in need of definition!).
      .

      Twentieth-century economics pretended to be a value-free science.[116] Among the values in fact adhered to and promulgated are two that turn out to be especially problematic: the goal of economic growth, and the elevation of consumerism. (Neva Goodwin, Consumerism and the denial of values in economics, https://a.co/9f33znQ )

      (….) 9. Coda: an alternative economic theory

      The question is not whether economics should be value-free; if, as is increasingly recognized, not even the most “hard” sciences are completely value-free, then economics, a science whose entire subject is human beings — their wants and their activities — can hardly be expected to be free from the values of the theorists in the field as well as of the human subjects. And, in fact, throughout the twentieth century the discipline of economics has played a major role in shaping values. As noted at the outset, economics education has provided mental models that ignore issues of power and powerlessness, elevate selfishness, denigrate government in favor of markets, disregard any intrinsic values in work, and agree that consumption is the primary goal for individuals, to be reached by constant growth in macroeconomic output.
      .
      20th century economics did not have to move so far away from both ethics and realism. When we look back we can see the voices of dissident economists raised again and again, and consistently squelched, as the discipline turned away from relevance and toward a narrow conception of rigor. Increasingly, the incentive and reward system of mainstream economics departments selected, for graduate training, individuals whose chief strength is in mathematics, while broader interests in the implications and applications of the field had, if anything, a negative effect on the student’s chances for successful completion of an economics doctorate. Each year the graduates of these programs are, on the whole, narrower in their interests and their knowledge than the existing practitioners in the field. As the narrowest of them are, in turn, the ones likely to be selected for academic promotion and tenure, mainstream economics has progressively turned its back on subjects that other people think should be important to the field.
      .
      Here is where the neoclassical insistence upon claiming value neutrality is most evidently harmful to the evolution of the discipline. Economists who feel free to admit to values as critical elements in their work have a strong link to relevance: they can ask such questions as, “What is the purpose of an economy? By what standards do we judge a better versus a worse economy?” As economists drawn to such questioning have been removed from the mainstream there has been a growing “outer circle” of economists who have been denied the more desirable opportunities to teach and do research or who have voluntarily declared themselves as outsiders because they simply could not agree with some essential mainstream tenets.[141] (Neva Goodwin, Consumerism and the denial of values in economics, in Fullbrook & Morgan, Post-Neoliberal Economics)

    • Meta Capitalism
      May 22, 2022 at 2:37 pm

      For a number of years it has been fairly clear-at least in the United States-that truth is under assault. Our fellow citizens don’t seem to listen to facts anymore. Feelings outweigh evidence, and ideology is ascendant. In an earlier book, I explored the question of whether we now live in a “post-truth” era, where facts and even reality itself are up for grabs . and what the consequences of that might be. What I found was that the roots of today’s “reality denial” go straight back to the problem of “science denial,” which has been festering in this country since the 1950s, when the big tobacco companies hired a public relations expert to help them figure out how to fight the science that said smoking was linked to lung cancer. This scheme provided a blueprint for how to wage a successful campaign of misinformation against whatever topic one liked-evolution, vaccines, climate change-with the result that we now live in a society where two people can look at the same inauguration photograph and come to opposite conclusions about how many people were in attendance.3 (How to Talk to a Science Denier: Conversations with Flat Earthers, Climate Deniers, and Others Who Defy Reason by Lee McIntyre)

      .
      It is not only science that is under assault. Liberal democracy itself is under assault. And capitalism has itself become in some manifestations (e.g., neoliberal market fundamentalism) hostile if not outright incompatible with democracy and its democratic norms. The Big Lie (Joe Biden didn’t win the election) is being operationalized right now for the purpose of stealing the next election and turning America into a autocracy. Monopolists like Elon Musk are so adverse to paying taxes they sooner vote to put Donald Trump back on Twitter to weaponize our civil discourse and vote to put him back in power than have a functioning democracy. When the rich become autocratic oligarchs democracy dies.
      .
      The truth matters; evidence matters; facts matter. As Gunnar Myrdal said, “facts kick. Myrdal also said:
      .

      “Valuations are always with us. Disinterested research there has never been and can never be. Prior to answers there must be questions. There can be no view except from a viewpoint. In the questions raised and the viewpoint chosen, valuations are implied.
      .
      Our valuations determine our approaches to a problem, the definition of our concepts, the choice of models, the selection of observations, the presentations of our conclusions – in fact the whole pursuit of a study from beginning to end” (Myrdal 1978, pp.778-779). (Söderbaum, Peter. Economics, ideological orientation and democracy for sustainable development 2nd Edition (WEA Books) (p. 14). World Economics Association. Kindle Edition.)
      .
      Gunnar Myrdal (1969) dismissed any pretence that social scientists might make about their ‘objectivity’ and pointed out that value judgements must permeate their work. Instead, he advocated making one’s value judgements explicit so the reader would be aware of them and could decide whether to accept them. Sadly, his advice has gone largely unheeded and readers must be alert to detect hidden value judgements on their own. (Hill, Rod; Myatt, Professor Tony. The Economics Anti-Textbook: A Critical Thinker’s Guide to Microeconomics (p. 205). Zed Books. Kindle Edition. https://a.co/0Iq06hs)

      .
      It takes courage to follow the truth–evidence–where ever it might lead even if it contradicts one’s cherished beliefs. Many “objects and entities” of interest to science are kickable. But the problem with a naïve view of ‘objectivity’ is that not all reality that science addresses is kickable. There are degrees of kickability.
      .
      To be explicitly self-conscious of one’s valuations and philosophical preconceptions yet stubbornly willing to sincerely follow the evidence where ever it leads are the best we can ask of any science.
      .

      The scientific enterprise comes with philosophical commitments, whether the scientist likes it or not. The scientist needs philosophical ideas, simply because amongst the experimental and mathematical tools in the toolbox of the scientist there are conceptual tools, like the fundamental notions. The despairing scientist may ask: `Will we ever get an answer?’ The philosopher replies: `Not a definitive answer, but a few tentative answers: Recall that the philosopher (and the scientist qua philosopher) works with conceptual models. At any one time only a few of these models are in circulation. They cannot provide the definitive answers of which the scientist is fond. But this is typical of models even in the natural sciences. (The Scientist as Philosopher: Philosophical Consequences of Great Scientific Discoveries” by Friedel Weinert – https://a.co/64znF2X )

    • Meta Capitalism
      May 24, 2022 at 12:20 am

      The natural sciences have proven highly successful in developing causal theories that explain important aspects of how the world works. In some cases, these causal theories are also useful in making predictions. The purpose of the paper is to draw methodological parallels between these scientific practices and economics, specifically to argue that they could provide a useful guide for generating reliable knowledge about the economy.

      The use of biology as a source of methodological insight accords with Marshall’s famous dictum that “The Mecca of the economist lies in economic biology” (Marshall, 1920; preface to the 8th edition, p. xii); this was on the basis that “economics, like biology, deals with a matter, of which the inner nature and constitution, as well as the outer form, are constantly changing” (Marshall, 1920, appendix C, p. 637). This position is reinforced by the observation that the biological sciences have progressed enormously since Marshall’s day.

      (….) [A] similar opinion to Marshall’s was put forward much more recently by Hahn (1991):

      I am pretty certain that the following prediction will prove to be correct: theorising of the ‘pure’ sort will become both less enjoyable and less and less possible … rather radical changes in questions and methods are required … the signs are that the subject will return to its Marshallian affinities to biology.

      My aim is to describe an approach to theory development that is only incompletely developed in economics.2 The hope is that economists will find it useful to have an understanding of the way that successful theories have been constructed in the natural science. (Michael Joffe | Duncan Watson (Reviewing Editor) (2017) Causal theories, models and evidence in economics—some reflections from the natural sciences, Cogent Economics & Finance, 5:1, DOI: 10.1080/23322039.2017.1280983)

      I think this line of research is very promising and could potentially help economics become useful in solving real-world problems facing humanity as well as help economists develop practices that are better grounded in empirical science. By studying the practices of other sciences with a cross-disciplinary comparative perspective can be useful as long as such case studies are not misused by “spoofing” them (e.g., distorting either their history of meanings in context) for rhetorical purposes to create axiomatic-deductive “pure theory” devoid of actual empirical reality.

  2. yoshinorishiozawa
    May 18, 2022 at 8:50 pm

    Let me repeat what I have written in a comment on Edward Fullbrook’s post on May 10, 2022.
    https://rwer.wordpress.com/2022/05/10/can-you-think-of-something-snappier-than-understanding-the-economy-a-learning-system/#comment-188364

    The most important thing for economics as science is to know correctly and rightly how the economy works. The main objective of economics, for all people, including young and old, novice and experienced, should be to understand how the economy works.

    In this forum I read many posts which seem to misunderstand that economics is a system of policies. Right and just economic policies are important and they may be the raison-d’être of economics. However, those radical policy fighters should know how the economy works. If he or she does not correctly understand how the economy works, he or she have a great chance to prescribe and recommend a wrong policy from good will. The economy is a large and complex system which is hard to understand and which requires accumulation of experience and high learning or deep study.

    The most conspicuous error of this kind in the 20th century was the recommendation of planned economy. Do not forget that many progressive people were caught in this trap.

  3. bruceolsen
    May 18, 2022 at 11:20 pm

    “If he or she does not correctly understand how the economy works, he or she have a great chance to prescribe and recommend a wrong policy from good will.”

    This, of course, is exactly the point.

    Current funding models enable powerful, wealthy people to fund institutions that teach economists who make recommendations that are notable not for their fidelity to the real world, but for the way the recommendations perpetuate the power and wealth of the patrons.

    That wrong policies are recommended is not a bug; it is a feature. Not unlike the multiple layers of shell corporations that enable money launderers to profit, the multiple layers between patron and economist help to obscure the true nature of the process, and to enable the economists at the end of the chain to believe they are innocent.

    I’m fairly certain most anti-vaxxers are of good will, but they are nonetheless harmful and the harm they cause is rightfully highlighted.

    I don’t really see much of a difference with economists. Perhaps we should forgive all their student loans and allow them to try a more honorable profession.

    • yoshinorishiozawa
      May 19, 2022 at 1:47 am

      It is not difficult to tell if an economist is mainstream (neoclassical) or not.

      Mainstream economists think that firms are selling their products at prices given as much as they want. In other words, it means that, if the price is fixed, there is a point of production volume on which they get the biggest profit they can expect at these prices (products, input goods and wage rates). To make this peculiar assumption plausible neoclassical economists assume that they face decreasing returns to scale (at the point of operation). All these theses are easy to refute if they have some naive knowledge of the economy.

      Heterodox economists are an umbrella name that includes all economists who are dissatisfied with the mainstream economics. They are so varied in their opinions. In this sense, heterodox economics has no substance. However, what I think to be the core of the alternative economics is simple and clear.

      I and many other heterodox economists think that firms set their product prices and produce and sell as much as their products sell. This behavior is possible both when returns to scale are increasing, constant, or decreasing. But, most often, we observe constant returns to scale when we take into account only direct inputs such as labor, materials, parts and components. When we take into account the fixed costs such as staffs, machines and installations, returns is scale are increasing (i.e. the average cost decreases). Firms make the bigger profit as their products sell the more. This is why business firms pay such big efforts in sales promotion in publicity and others.

      To tell the difference short, neoclassical economists believe that it is price mechanism that makes the market economy work. And they believe this mechanism works well almost always. Many of heterodox economists believe that the main adjustment mechanism of the modern industrial economy (excluding the financial economy) is quantity adjustment. This system works under a condition that there are no big change for it. The main task of the heterodox economics is then to discern when it works and when it does not. We have to know when it is necessary to appeal to other adjustment mechanisms like price changes and rationing (e.g. ask to wait for a certain lapse of times). The price mechanism is important not in making demand and supply equal, but in guiding the choice of production techniques. (See my paper: A new framework for analyzing technological change. Journal of Evolutionary Economics (2020) 30(4): 989-1034.)

      Many other heterodox economists claim that neoclassical economists assume greedy economic man (or woman). But this is minor point of arguments, because the economy works whether economic agents are greedy or not. Much more important point is that humans cannot be infinitely rational. We should formulate how the economic agents behave on the assumption that they have only a limited capacity in sight (information gathering), rationality (rational calculation such as maximization of his or her utility) and execution (to implement what they plan). In this sense, neoclassical economics assumes a quite unrealistic human beings. (See my chapter 1 of our book: Y. Shiozawa, M. Morioka, and K. Taniguchi 2019 Microfoundations of Evolutionary Economics. Springer Japan, Tokyo.)

      I hope I am clear. If you do not think so, please ask me any questions. I will try to do my best.

  4. Romar Correa
    May 19, 2022 at 7:35 am

    I agree entirely with Peter Söderbaum although I would substitute ‘neoclassical’ with ‘mainstream’. His reservations about the Nobel Prize ring loud and clear. To the traditional plaints, I would add the might of finance and the feeding of popular perceptions. Some of the recent prizes have clearly been awarded for superficial cuts to deep economic problems but which attract the public eye and to which governments find it easy to commit. Big funding flows in. The consequence is that concepts like class conflict, expropriation, and so on, already fading from academic consciousness are fated to turn invisible. As the Professor wisely observes, ruling-class values and ideology are fortified. The belief in markets is solidified and growing inequalities will be addressed with a battery of novel field-level ameliorations.

  5. Meta Capitalism
    May 20, 2022 at 5:15 am

    Forgive the long citation; it seems Hill’s Anti-Textbook is very apropos to Peter Söderbaum thesis:

    In brief
    .
    The typical introductory economics textbook teaches that economics is a value-free science; that economists have an agreed-upon methodology; and they know which models are best to apply to any given problem. They give the impression that markets generally are sufficiently competitive that (for the most part) they lead to efficient outcomes; that minimum wages and unions are harmful to workers themselves; and that government regulation is either ineffective or harmful. (Hill, Rod; Myatt, Tony. The Microeconomics Anti-Textbook (p. 21). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.)
    .
    The Microeconomics Anti-Textbook points out that all this is a myth. Value judgements pervade economics and economic textbooks. These value judgements reflect a social and political philosophy and can be called an ideology or world-view. It is one that textbook writers are implicitly attempting to persuade the reader to accept. The Anti-Textbook makes this ideology, and the value-judgements behind it, explicit. The point is not so much to claim that this ideology is wrong, but simply to point out that it exists, and that there are always alternative views that one ought to consider. (Hill, Rod; Myatt, Tony. The Microeconomics Anti-Textbook (pp. 21-22). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition. https://a.co/jfWETrD)
    .
    Our aim is not to debunk mainstream (neoclassical) economics — just the textbook presentation of it. Partly, this is because the neoclassical paradigm is remarkably malleable. It is capable of transforming itself, of shedding many an unappealing feature.3 Partly, it is because the boundaries of mainstream neoclassical economics are blurry. It is not clear, for example, whether work on behavioural economics lies within the neoclassical paradigm or is a direct assault upon it. In any event, the work since the 1970s on imperfect information by Joseph Stiglitz and others overthrows many of the neoclassical presumptions about efficiency and the harmfulness of government intervention, and whether this work remains within the neoclassical paradigm is debatable.4 Though we are sympathetic to alternative paradigms and to heterodox views (one of us thinks of himself as a ‘Post-Keynesian’ and the other doesn’t identify with any single school of thought), the Anti-Textbook is not a presentation of alternative paradigms. Instead, we draw upon them in our critique of standard textbook microeconomics. They are particularly useful because of their emphasis on things that are systematically neglected by neoclassical economics. (Hill, Rod; Myatt, Tony. The Microeconomics Anti-Textbook (p. 22). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition. https://a.co/byp7YhR )
    .
    This book is not ‘anti’ microeconomics, or even ‘anti’ mainstream microeconomics. It is ‘anti’ mainstream textbook microeconomics. An examination of their content reveals that the standard textbooks are remarkably similar and reflect a narrower range of world views than those held even by mainstream economists. Contrary to what the student might expect, the authors of these books are not free to present their own ideas about how to introduce the subject. Instead, as described by David Colander, himself the author of a widely used text, there is an unwritten 15 percent rule. A book’s content cannot deviate from the ‘standard’ text by more than this, or it will endanger its chances of adoption by instructors, who would face costs of switching from whatever standard book they were currently using. (Hill, Rod; Myatt, Tony. The Microeconomics Anti-Textbook (pp. 22-23). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

    Of course, there are a small but growing number of non-standard textbooks that have defied the 15 percent rule and still managed to get published. They comprise a very small share of the market in the English-speaking world. Unfortunately, the vast majority of first-year economics students are subjected to the standard mainstream textbook. It is for these undergraduate students, as well as the curious layperson, that we have written this book. (Hill, Rod; Myatt, Tony. The Microeconomics Anti-Textbook (p. 23). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition. )

    (….) The influence of the core content of the standard textbook extends well beyond the classroom. Dutch economist Peter-Wim Zuidhof writes that ‘textbook accounts are also what journalists, commentators, policy advisors, economists, and noneconomists alike tend to draw on when having to explain economics in public.’ Citizens who pay attention to public policy discussions are in danger of falling victim to what James Kwak calls economism: ‘Economism is what you are left with if you learn the first-year models, forget that there are assumptions involved, and never get your hands dirty with real-world data.’ Our book is intended to be an antidote to this ailment. (Hill, Rod; Myatt, Tony. The Microeconomics Anti-Textbook (p. 23). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.)
    .
    (….) Textbooks are necessarily selective. They must include and emphasize some things and exclude or downplay others. They ask certain questions and not others. They place some topics and questions in the forefront, and put others in the background or leave them out entirely. Those decisions usually reflect implicit, not explicit, value judgements about what is interesting and important. No ‘objective’ account is possible. For most people — including many economists — this is not a controversial claim. (Hill, Rod; Myatt, Tony. The Microeconomics Anti-Textbook (pp. 24-25). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.)
    .
    Yet the textbooks cloak themselves in an aura of objectivity. They portray economics as a science dealing with facts and theories that make predictions. Economists are portrayed like scientists wearing white lab coats objectively developing theoretical models and coming up with policy prescriptions supported by a consensus of professional opinion. (Hill, Rod; Myatt, Tony. The Microeconomics Anti-Textbook (pp. 24-25). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition. )

    The Anti-Textbook argues that this is a myth one which is not only dangerously misleading but also bland and boring. Value judgements arise on the first page, where the textbook writers ask ‘what is economics?・and attempt to define the subject and the main problems that it addresses. A variety of possible definitions exists, and each one would give rise to different lines of enquiry. One definition might stress the importance of using society’s scarce resources to make total income and production as large as possible; another might stress the importance of eliminating poverty and deprivation so that everyone’s basic needs are met. When an author gives one view and ignores alternative possibilities, a value judgement has been made.

    Moreover, the hope that economics would one day become a positive science relying on the evidence to confirm or to refute theories has, up to this point, been in vain. There are long-standing disputes about the effects of relatively simple policy changes. For example, does an increase in the minimum wage increase unemployment? Many texts claim that economists have a consensus answer to this question supported by a clear body of empirical evidence. But nothing could be further from the truth. Contradictory evidence abounds; the dispute is sometimes heated and, as we show in Chapter 2, consensus among economists has broken down beginning in the 1990s. Some acknowledge that such disputes are a ‘battleground for those who believe in free markets and those who do not’.

    Economics is inevitably a battleground between opposing ideologies. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Recognizing this reality puts the controversy and excitement back into economics, and reveals a fascinating and vibrant field of study. John Maynard Keynes, perhaps the greatest economist of the 20th century, considered economics to be ‘a moral science and not a natural science. That is to say, it employs introspection and judgements of value.’ (Hill, Rod; Myatt, Tony. The Microeconomics Anti-Textbook (p. 26). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition. https://a.co/7fla008 )

    .
    I made sure my daughters have this text.

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