The Murphmeister and economics as moral philosophy

This is an interesting claim of Ritchie’s:

The fact is that economics students are not taught the history of economic thought.

They are also not taught that economics is moral philosophy. Indeed, they are not taught much, if any, philosophy, at most universities.

Leave aside whether it’s true or not. It’s amusing that he says this while entirely rejecting any and everything said by that moral philosopher who considered economics, Adam Smith, ain’t it?

8 thoughts on “The Murphmeister and economics as moral philosophy”

  1. I dropped out of a maths module in my first year to do a philosophy module on Logic and Scientific Method. One of the best modules I did in my entire Computer Science degree!

    For a start, the scientific method bit helps me tell pseudo-science from actual science (hint: the latter usually has the confidence to make falsifiable predictions, the former constantly wriggles out of being proven wrong by introducing additional conditions each time the empirical evidence contradicts their hypothesis).

  2. Hang on. Logic, here?

    Postulate A: economics is moral philosophy,

    Postulate B: economics students are taught economics (assuming they don’t skive off a la Ritchie)

    Then, by derivation, we can conclude that economics students are indeed taught philosophy. Just not the particular brand of post-Marxism that Ritchie thinks they should be indoctrinated in.

  3. Murphy claims students are not taught the history of economic thought, and yet hasn’t this man boasted of dropping out of certain economics classes because he disagreed with them, or suchlike that I recall? So how can he give a credible view on what students are taught and why? Has he evaluated every syllabus up and down the land, and in other countries, to rigorously justify his statement?

    Here is a very brief example of such a course. However, I doubt that Mr Murphy will like the mention of Hayek:

  4. The 1st statement is not true.
    Source: I’m an economics undergraduate who’s studied the history of economics

  5. “They are also not taught that economics is moral philosophy. Indeed, they are not taught much, if any, philosophy, at most universities.”

    What an unlikely source for an encomium for Oxford.

  6. The only moral philosophies that count are the ones that agree with RM. If they don’t agree they are immoral philosophies and can be safely cast into the fiery furnace.

  7. From various exchanges with Richard I have established that if he is not actually a moral nihilist, he is certainly an extreme moral relativist.

    He completely denies objectivity in morality. He denies the existence of moral absolutes – such as it is always wrong to do something. I put a couple of standard teasers for him on this, (I think I suggested that it would always be wrong to kill somebody “just for a laugh”), but he said he was too busy to answer.

    I did my philosophy dissertation on moral theory. I didn’t think it would ever qualify me to say that somebody isn’t a very good economist. But there you go…

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