Right, Wrong and Economics

Journal des Economistes Et des Etudes Humaines 6 (4) (1995)
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Abstract

George Stigler soutenait que l’économiste, quand il prêchait, ne pouvait faire plus que de recommander une éthique de la rationalité instrumentale, ou de la manière intelligente d’accorder les moyens aux fins. Les fins les plus importantes appartiendraient toutes à un maximande unique, la richesse, tempérée par un altruisme de proximité.L’agnosticisme moral radical de Stigler le conduisit à nier toute distinction entre les choix forcés et libres, les actes licites et illicites, le vol et le commerce dans la mesure où ils aboutissaient de manière égale à l’augmentation de l’utilité. En considérant que le concept de coercition était sans fondement, il identifia la liberté avec la richesse. Cet article expose les raisons analytiques pour lesquelles les arguments de Stigler ne sont pas valables.George Stigler held that the economist, when he preached, could do no more than commend an ethic of instrumental rationality, the intelligent fitting of means to ends. The ends that mattered were all included in a single maximand, wealth, tempered by proximity-altruism.Stigler’s radical moral agnosticism led him to deny any distinction between coerced and free choices, licit and illicit acts, robbery and commerce as long as they were equally utilityenhancing. Finding the concept of coercion baseless, he identified liberty with wealth. The paper furnishes analytical reasons why Stigler’s arguments are invalid.

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