Economists, Values and Ideology : A neglected Agenda

Roger E. Backhouse

Table of Contents


This paper surveys the debates that have taken place over the role of value judgments in economics, claiming that the analysis of different types of value judgment offers a way to explore the influence of ideology on economic theory. In this literature, the focus of attention has been on whether the methods of positive economics allow the economist’s political values to affect his or her conclusions. This paper turns instead to intellectual value judgments, the influence of which is more concealed. Some heterodox economists, notably Feminists, have addressed this issue but they have done so only to a limited extent. The paper explores the relationship of this literature to the transformation of the philosophy of science that followed Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions and concludes by arguing that the relationship between economists intellectual value judgments and ideology is a line of inquiry that has been insufficiently pursued.

Key Words

ideology, value judgments, economic theory

JEL Classification: B4