Halteman_ValuesInPoMo

Halteman_ValuesInPoM - The Role of Values in Post-Modern Economics by Jim Halteman Presented at the ACE Annual Meetings 1994 1 Introduction

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The Role of Values in Post-Modern Economics by Jim Halteman Presented at the ACE Annual Meetings, 1994 1. Introduction Economists, like all mortals, spend most of their time thinking about definitive realities. We have made a profession of discovering laws of human behavior that govern resource use. We use our laws to generate policy and our desire is to progress toward the absolute truth of economics so that we need not live amid chaotic unpredictable happenings. We are proud that our discipline is a science and we feel more kinship at times with the natural sciences than we do with other social sciences. Unlike other social sciences, we build on the notion that people have common objectives and are rational. From this basis we are only a stone's throw away from objective science and highly reliable policy. Our definitive reality is the mechanistic world that is ours to conquer. The post-modern world view is changing this agenda of thought. What we think is now less important than how we think. J. L. Burkholder has proposed that "a subtle and profound change has come upon us with respect to how we perceive reality. This change is sometimes celebrated as liberation. It is to be liberated from a world of external restraints in favor of subjective freedom." 1 Realty becomes a subjective individual matter in which perspective, context, frame of reference, and individual perception are the important factors. This change of perspective points out the dilemma for Christian scholars in this time between world views. As confidence in enlightenment rationalism fades and the contours of subjective relativism appear, religion is in a precarious position. On the one hand, there is kinship with the enlightenment belief in objective rational reality. The Christian faith has always provided a locus for ultimate objective truth. On the other hand, there is kinship with the subjectivist battle against the reductionism of the rationalistic world. In other words, the Christian has problems with a value free science where God is an absentee landlord or simply absent, but the Christian finds little comfort in a world view that welcomes values but has no hierarchy in the value structure. II. Economics has something to offer the dialogue on shifting world views . Economics has only danced on the fringes of this world view transition, but it is particularly suited to make a contribution to the discussion for several reasons. First, it is a social science where people are the basic building blocks of a unified theory rather than the particles of the physicist. The "objectives common to most" assumption of the economic rationalist model does not serve us as well as the physicist's assumption that particles have common objectives. They almost always seem to. Therefore, only the most ardent supporters of economics as science have promoted the pure value free reductionism position in economics. No one has really succeeded in making this position operational. This weakness in our positivistic armor makes us open to
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This note was uploaded on 02/29/2012 for the course ECON 202 taught by Professor Johnzietlow during the Spring '12 term at Malone University.

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Halteman_ValuesInPoM - The Role of Values in Post-Modern Economics by Jim Halteman Presented at the ACE Annual Meetings 1994 1 Introduction

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