The Economy, Science and Politics

"The Economy, Science and Politics,” Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967/1969,  pp.251-269.


“In spite of the fact that at least the first half of my career as an economist has been fully devoted to pure theory, and because I have since devoted much time to subjects entirely outside the field of economics, I do welcome the prospect that my teaching is to concern the future mainly in problems of economic policy. I am very anxious, however, to state clearly and publicly, even before I start on my regular courses, what seemed to me the aims and the limits of the contributions of science and the tasks of academic instruction in the field of economic policy.

In this I will  not dwell longer than necessary on the  much discussed problem which arises here in the first instance and which I cannot wholly pass over even though I have nothing new to say about it: the role of value judgments in the social sciences in general and in the discussion of questions of economic and social policy in particular. It is now almost fifty years since Max Weber stated the essentials of this issue, and if one now rereads his careful formulations one finds little that one wishes to add. The effects of his admonitions may sometimes have gone too far. But we must not be surprised that a time when economics threaten to degenerate in Germany into a doctrine of social reform, at a school of economics could describe itself as the ‘ethical school,’ he pushed his arguments to a point work where it could also have been misunderstood.”

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