Economists in particular are disdainful of ideology, on the theory that ideology implies bias and constraint, while optimality requires unconstrained choice. But that is misguided on multiple levels: 1) Supposing the economist could (counterfactually) be non-ideological, the human agents that she studies are subject to ideological biases and constraints, and our non-ideological economist will fail to be a good scientist if she fails to take those into account; 2) The economist is human, and ought to grapple explicitly with her own biases and instinctual constraints, if she is to have any hope of countering them and approximating “unconstrained” choice among available hypotheses and policies; 3) Despite an economist’s best efforts, the true, unconstrained space of models and hypotheses plausibly consistent with evidence is always too large to be exhaustively searched and sorted. Ideology, individual and institutional, will always shape economic conclusions to some extent, and economists ought take responsibility for that and think critically about the effect of their ideology on the polity whose choices they help to shape.

It is childish, and wrong, to imagine that acknowledging the ideological aspects of ones work and self makes one less trustworthy or more dangerous than those whose work is equally ideological, but who mistake their ideology for objectivity or truth and who therefore deny any role for ideology. Many of history’s most dangerous ideologues have been “true believers”, and others have pretended a “scientific” perspective while advancing claims we now recognize as ideological. Being acted upon by, and acting upon, prevailing ideology are part of what it means to be human. It is not just the province of economists or policymakers, or a fabrication of Svengalis in the propaganda ministry. Nevertheless, politicians and economists and other “opinion leaders” probably do have disproportionate influence over ideological change. As far as I’m concerned, they (we) ought to be doing a better, more careful, and more conscious, job of it.


  1. 経済学者が(事実に反して)イデオロギーから自由であると仮定したとしても、彼らの研究対象となる人間はイデオロギーによる偏向や制約から自由では無い。我らがイデオロギーに束縛されない経済学者は、そうしたことを考慮に入れないと、よき科学者にはなれない。
  2. 経済学者も人間であり、自身の偏向や知的制約と明示的に向き合う必要がある――もしそうした偏向や制約に抗して、利用可能な仮説や政策の中から「無制約」に近い選択をしたいと少しでも願うならば。
  3. 経済学者がいくら努力したところで、実証結果と十分に整合的な真の無制約のモデルや仮説の集合は、すべて探索して調べ尽くすにはあまりにも大きすぎるのが常である。イデオロギーは、個人的なものにせよ組織的なものにせよ、経済学上の結論をある程度は形作ってしまうものであり、経済学者はその点に責任を持ち、自分たちが意思決定の手助けをしている政治組織に自身のイデオロギーがどの程度反映してしまうかを批判的に捉えなくてはならない。