This is why I’m going into graduate school for IR/China Studies/International Economics and where I see my career going into the future. This question of scientistic economics vs. moral and political economy has profound implications for China, where these questions cannot even really be asked by academics. And it of course also directly affects the United States, where we need this kind of thought to combat a growing culture of ignorance and Tea Party economics. I love Michael Sandel:
“Scientistic understandings of economics detached from traditional normative questions, traditional questions of value, has a kind of momentum of its own, as if economics were a science or discipline that had graduated from, risen above, connection with mere speculation, which is what philosophers are sometimes thought to do.
And there is something very heady about that idea, of economics as a science, even like physics, for example. But I think it’s a mistake, and I think it’s short-sighted. I think the most important and creative work in the social sciences in our lifetime and in the future will be done by people who are equipped with economic training and concepts and categories but who can see beyond it, and who can reconnect economics with what used to be called moral and political economy.
You know back in the days of Adam Smith, and David Hume, and John Stewart Mill, there was one subject, moral and political economy. There was not political philosophy on the one hand and economics, the science, on the other. And I think that some of the most exciting development and new work will consist in reconnecting the normative dimensions of moral and political theory with economic analysis.
And we see this beginning in debates about globalization, for example, where the role of markets and normative questions seem very hard to leave by the wayside. So that’s one area I think in which the established social science are in need of a kind of leavening and deepening that can come if they reconnect with questions not only of policy but also values and norms, and ideals.”
via the excellent blog Understanding Society.