経済学は道徳劇ではない、というのはクルーグマンが良く口にするところだが(cf. ここここ)、Timothy TaylorがこのテーマについてIMFのFinance & Developmentサイトに寄稿している(H/T Mostly Economics;Taylor自身も自ブログで取り上げている)。

ECONOMISTS prefer to sidestep moral issues. They like to say they study trade-offs and incentives and interactions, leaving value judgments to the political process and society.

But moral judgments aren’t willing to sidestep economics.

Critiques of the relationship between economics and moral virtue can be grouped under three main headings: To what extent does ordinary economic life hold a capacity for virtue? Is economic analysis overstepping its bounds into zones of behavior that should be preserved from economics? Does the study of economics itself discourage moral behavior?
経済学と道徳的美徳との関係への批判は、大きく3つの題目にまとめられる:通常の経済生活は、美徳をどの程度包含しているのか? 経済学の分析は境界線を乗り越えて、本来経済学からは隔離されているべき行動領域にまで踏み込んでいるのではないか? 経済学の研究自体が道徳的行為を抑止するのではないか?


A middle ground might be to accept that while moments of grace and opportunities for virtue can occur in all aspects of life, including economic life, the range and variety of opportunities for virtue may vary depending on the characteristics of one’s economic life.


Indeed, when economic thinking has been expanded to areas outside its traditional scope, the results have often proven fruitful. For example, economists have built on the work of the late Nobel laureate Gary Becker and others to show how economic thinking can explain the dynamics of subjects previously not considered to be economic topics, such as marriage, child rearing, crime, and discrimination against particular groups of people. ...
It is tempting to seek to build a fence around moral and civic virtues to prevent the encroachment of economic values. But as the United States learned with its attempt to ban alcohol during the early 20th century, economic forces are not easily blocked, and a well-regulated marketplace often proves to be a more pragmatic way of balancing moral and civic values than laws that ban behavior based on moral arguments.


Economists can feel unfairly singled out by this complaint. After all, many academic subjects study unsavory aspects of human behavior. Political science, history, psychology, sociology, and literature are often concerned with aggression, obsessiveness, selfishness, and cruelty, not to mention lust, sloth, greed, envy, pride, wrath, and gluttony. But no one seems to fear that students in these other disciplines are on the fast track to becoming sociopaths. Why is economics supposed to be so uniquely corrupting? After all, professional economists run the ideological gamut from far left to far right, which suggests that training in economics is not an ideological straitjacket.

Some evidence suggests a link between the study of economics and less cooperative or empathetic behavior, although overall, the research that attempts to link an area of academic study to altered personality traits has not been especially rigorous.
No economist would recommend consulting an economics textbook as a practical source of transcendent moral wisdom. As the recent global economic crisis reminded anyone who needed reminding, economics doesn’t have answers for all of the world’s economic problems. But to be fair, moral philosophers don’t have answers for all the world’s spiritual and ethical problems.

In his famous 1890 Principles of Economics textbook, the great economist Alfred Marshall wrote that “economics is the study of people in the everyday business of life.” Economists cannot banish the importance of moral issues in their field of study and should not seek to do so. But when moral philosophers consider topics that touch on the ordinary business of life, they cannot wish away or banish the importance of economics either.
経済学者は、不当にもこの不平の唯一の標的になっている、と感じている。結局のところ、多くの人文学科目が人間の行動の芳しくない側面を研究している。政治学歴史学、心理学、社会学、そして文学は、しばしば、攻撃、妄執、利己主義、そして残酷さを扱うし、もちろん、色欲、怠惰、貪欲、嫉妬、高慢、憤怒、暴食*1も扱っている。しかし、それらの科目を専攻している学生が反社会的人間への早道を歩んでいる、と恐れる者はいない。なぜ経済学に限って人を堕落させると考えられているのか? 結局のところ、プロの経済学者のイデオロギー極左から極右に至るすべてに亘っており、そのことは、経済学の習得はイデオロギーのお仕着せではない、ということを物語っている。