Thursday, January 31, 2013

Beatrice Cherrier — The challenge of “value-ladeness” for history writing

Although the objectivity-Grail Quest has ended with total success decades ago (so economists say), the question of the possibility and consequences of economists' values smuggling into their daily practice still periodically surfaces, and crises make good times for such debates. Yet, not often do we historians too ask how economists' values should be handled in our writing.
One way to deal with such values is to consider them a symptom of one or several economist's ideology or political beliefs. In such framework, scientific work is consciously or unconsciously subdued to the pursuit of an agenda, be it the defense of neoliberalism, of Western democracy, of individual freedom, of rational choice as a guide to consumption, production procreation, etc.
It is however possible to conceive values in a sense that doesn't entail that the production of scientific knowledge is twisted, changed or distorted by personal features (which presupposes the reference to an external and pure yardtick). The historian simply assumes that scientific endeavours are a way to make sense of (value) the world. Economists' practices thus simply embody a set personal features to which I like to refer as a worldview. In that sense, value-laden means “personal.”
INET | History of Economics Playground
The challenge of “value-ladeness” for history writing
by Beatrice Cherrier

Interesting from the aspect of acknowledging that all knowledge is expressed in terms of a worldview, with worldviews being bounded by the norms (values, criteria, methodology, etc.) that define and delimit a worldview, but seemingly not to well-informed about relevant debates in the philosophy of science. Progress over the usual simplistic approaches in economics, though.

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