Over at Economist’s View there is an interesting piece from a book named “History of Economic Thought: A Critical Perspective”.
Now I don’t disagree with large parts of this. It is indeed fallacious to state that any CONCLUSION is value free – as it never is.
However, I feel that the piece mixes up its attack on the conclusions of the Austrian and Chicago school with the general neo-classical method – which is, in itself, closer to value free and objective. As the actual article says:
Their science applies everywhere because it applies nowhere. Most theorizing by these schools is purely tautological.
Now this may make the descriptions “unscientific”, but conveniently it also makes them value free. Remember, the purpose of these “tautologies” is to create statements that we can use to show relationships between things in logical terms – they create a framework that allows us to then apply value judgments and reach conclusions. Currently, this is one of the main roles of economists – to create a framework that can have value judgments added to it to create descriptions and predictions. Economists often move a step further and create testable hypotheses, hypotheses that are supposed to describe, or possibly even predict what is going on. However, another set of value judgments is then required to “prescribe” policy given these descriptions or predictions – this is a bigger step than some economists realise.
Still, for now let us take the implied “argument” that Austrian and Chicago economists are said to use in the above linked article, and see if we can adjust it to suit the way I see things