The distributive liberal social contract as definite norm of communicative action: A characterization through the Nash social welfare function

Jean Mercier-Ythier


Economics imperialism as an interdisciplinary relationship is supported by some, resisted by others, but these attitudes are seldom systematically derived from explicitly stated values and norms of scientific inquiry. Once we start getting explicit about these matters, they also become more complex and blurred. Some consider such norms part of the definition of economics imperialism; others, myself included, consider the relevant norms separate from the concept. In either case, the application of the norms is selective and ambiguous. Depending on one’s selections and interpretations, the norms can be made to speak for or against imperialistic economics. The paper lists a number of methodological and social norms of scientific inquiry and shows how they can be invoked in the debates – such as the desiderata of broad scope, unification, originality, empirical adequacy, universalism, epistemic humility, responsiveness to criticism, diversity, epistemic justice, playfulness, and others. I provide critical commentaries of a few normative accounts of economics imperialism as well as summarise and elaborate my own account. Nothing perfectly conclusive can be concluded.

JEL Codes: B41, A11, A12, A13.

Tags: Economics imperialism, Norms, Norms of science, Normativity, Unification, Interdisciplinarity

[Read the article on Cairn]