This chapter seeks to demonstrate that investigations in positive economics rely on ethical perspectives and practices, and further, that critical thinking requires a wider ethical viewpoint than normative economics generally permits. Positive economics generally relies, for example, on the unsung virtues of the investigator who demonstrates honesty and transparency in the search for truth. Ethical failures in this regard are not uncommon (DeMartino, 2011). But another unstated ethical perspective appears in the worldview from which a researcher sets out to model behavior. Modelers almost always assume that rationality requires that an economic actor undertake an action in pursuit of a goal or end. Hence, positive economics is said to be the analysis of outcomes based on a theoretical understanding of causal relationships (if action X is taken, outcome Y will result). This broad analytical approach is termed consequentialism.
Copyright © 2012, Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc. This chapter first appeared in International Handbook on Teaching and Learning Economics.
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Wight, Jonathan. "Ethics and Critical Thinking." In International Handbook on Teaching and Learning Economics, edited by Gail Mitchell Hoyt and KimMarie McGoldrick, 197-204. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2012.