ethics: Are Economists Taking the Nuremberg Defense?

Arnold Kling links to an article by David Colander and seven other economists calling for a more ethical science of economics:

In our view, economists, as with all scientists, have an ethical responsibility to communicate the limitations of their models and the potential misuses of their research. Currently, there is no ethical code for professional economic scientists. There should be one.

Friedrich Hayek in his 1974 Nobel Lecture and in his Nobel banquet speech was essentially calling on the economics profession to do exactly this — acknowledge the limitation of their research and tell the public the truth about those limitations, being especially open about what they are competent to recommend and what they are not competent to recommend.  When reading Hayek’s banquet remarks you might thing he referring directly to 2008 Nobel winner Paul Krugman.

On a related ethics front, Kling points out that Paul Volcker thinks econ geeks on Wall Street “are using the Nuremberg defense in defending their role in the financial crisis.”  I’d suggest that Alan Greenspan has essentially done the same thing.

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