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date: 25 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines economists’ indefensible attachment to the positive–normative distinction, and suggests a behavioral economics explanation of their behavior on the subject. It traces the origins of the distinction to Hume’s guillotine and logical positivism, and argues they contributed to Robbins’ understanding of value neutrality. It connects philosophers’ rejection of logical positivism and their rejection of the positive-normative distinction, explains and modifies Putnam’s view of fact–value entanglement, and identifies four main ethical value judgments that contemporary economists employ. The behavioral explanation of economists’ denial of these value judgments emphasizes loss aversion and economists’ social identity as economists.

Keywords: fact–value entanglement, loss aversion, Putnam, Robbins, value neutrality

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