2022 (19), №4

Contradictory Effects of Ethical Neutrality and Formalization of Economics

For citation: 

Nifaeva, O. V. (2022). Contradictory Effects of Ethical Neutrality and Formalization of Economics AlterEconomics, 19(4), 563-583. https://doi.org/10.31063/AlterEconomics/2022.19-4.1


The article analyses the issues of ethical neutrality and excessive formalization in modern econo­mics, and their mutual influence. The author systematizes the contradictory effects of ethical neutrality and excessive formalization on the development of economics by looking at the following: the impact of engineering thinking on the development of economics; the influence of ethical neutrality and excessive formalization on the way the subject matter of economics is defined as well as on its methodological, ontological and ethi­cal premises; the dependence of research outcomes on the quality of the data used for economic and mathematical modelling; and, finally, the problems of Wertfreiheit (freedom from value judgement) and grand-theories rejection, which inevitably presuppose ethical background. The arbitrary choice of data, periods and methods of analysis, the division between dependent and independent variables deprive quantitative methods of the merits that are so persistently advocated by the proponents of mathematical economic science. All of the above casts doubt on the advantages of these methods, such as their precision and objectivity. The article shows that some of the leading economists (as well as representatives of exact sciences) were aware of the inherent limitations of quantitative methods in regard to social sciences and humanities. They considered mathematical constructions as a tool to support their views rather than the only way to assert an absolute truth. Examples of the views of scholars, including A. Turgot, A. Smith and J. S. Sismondi, on the problem of formalization in economics are provided.

Olga V. Nifaeva — Cand. Sci. (Econ.), Associate Professor, Associate Professor of the Department of Industrial Management, Bryansk State Technical University (7, 50 let Oktyabrya boulevard, Bryansk, 241035, Russian Federation; e-mail: olganifaeva@yandex.ru).

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