Handbook of Economics and Ethics
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Handbook of Economics and Ethics

Edited by Jan Peil and Irene van Staveren

The Handbook of Economics and Ethics portrays an understanding of economic methodology in which facts and values, though distinct, are closely interconnected in a variety of ways. From theory building to data collection, and from modelling to policy evaluation, this encyclopaedic Handbook is at the intersection of economics and ethics.
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Chapter 47: Pluralism

Esther-Mirjam Sent


Esther-Mirjam Sent Introduction Calls for pluralism in economics date from the publication of ‘Plea for a Pluralistic and Rigorous Economics’, issued in 1992 by a group of economists in the form of an advertisement in the American Economic Review calling for a new spirit of pluralism in economics, involving critical conversation and tolerant communication between different approaches. Such pluralism should not undermine the standards of rigor; an economics that requires itself to face all the arguments will be a more, not a less, rigorous science. The ‘Plea’ was organized by Geoffrey Hodgson, Uskali Mäki and D. McCloskey and signed by 44 illustrious names including Nobel laureates Franco Modigliani, Paul Samuelson, Herbert Simon and Jan Tinbergen. The following year, the call for pluralism was institutionalized with the establishment of the International Confederation of Associations for Pluralism in Economics (ICAPE). This organization’s commitment to a ‘new pluralism’ was renewed recently in a series of petitions by students and professors in France, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, leading to the creation of the Post-Autistic Economics Network. Implicit in these appeals is the observation that economics lacks pluralism. The pleas for pluralism are defended with an assortment of arguments, such as the complexity of the economy, the restrictions inherent in modelling and cognitive limitations on the part of economists. The advertisement in the American Economic Review employed a reflexive strategy as well: ‘Economists today enforce a monopoly of method or core assumptions, often defended on no better ground [than] that...

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