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date: 17 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that the precept “first tell no untruth” is the initial premise of an ethical code for economists. Unjustifiable claims of truth for economic statements cause harm when people act on them, when different actions could have produced better outcomes. The harm is avoidable if known critical practices give grounds to doubt the claim of truth. This harm arises from not from the malign intent of economists but from their relation with society, which introduces “misleading bias” by expecting them to certify as true assertions that benefit their employers. This gives rise to “monotheoretic practice,” the production of single answers by means of single theories. The alternative is “systematic pluralism”—the provision of a range of possible answers derived from relevant legitimate theories. This code would be mutual, recognizing the joint responsibility of economists and society, and collective, holding economists ethically responsible for their profession’s output.

Keywords: economic advising, assertive pluralism, pluralism in economics, economic code of ethics

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