The Economic Case Against Professional Economic Ethics

George F. DeMartino

in The Economist’s Oath

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199730568
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199896776 | DOI:
The Economic Case Against Professional Economic Ethics

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This chapter rebuts the economist’s case against professional economic ethics. First, economists err in reducing professional ethics to a binding code of conduct. Professional ethics refers to a broad tradition of inquiry into and training in the daunting challenges that professionals face in their work. Whether a code of conduct for economics is also warranted should be sorted out only after the field of professional ethics has been established. Second, economic advising entails difficult choices that affect the outcomes of the advising process. An appreciation of the range and consequences of these choices implies that the advisor is not ethically insulated in his/her work, as ethicist Dennis Thompson has argued. Third, the positivist view of economic advising is deficient in important respects. Finally, economics must be recognized as a full-blown profession, owing to the nature of its expertise and the impact of its work on others.

Keywords: code of conduct; licensing; economic advising; professionalism; Dennis Thompson; positivism

Chapter.  7738 words. 

Subjects: Public Economics

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