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Codes of Ethics for Economists: A Pluralist View

Sheila C Dow

Abstract

Within the discussion of ethics and economics some have considered designing a code of ethics for economists. But the idea of such a code is potentially problematic from a pluralist standpoint. Some possibilities are discussed here to show that any code concerning the behaviour of economists presumes a particular view of human nature and thus of professionalism. Further, issues of socio-economic power in the profession pose problems for the interpretation and implementation of some possible principles, notably those referring to standards of competence and truth-seeking. It is therefore concluded that any code of ethics should take the form of general guidelines, with primacy given to the ethics of pluralism: tolerance, even-handedness and open-mindedness, on which the interpretation of all other ethical considerations rests.

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Published on 15 Apr 2013 in Economic Thought Vol 2, No 1, 2013