Thursday, September 25, 2014

Economics as Evil and the Intention Heuristic

A really interesting blog post discusses the intention heuristic within the larger context of trying to understand why economics as a discipline is so often thought to lead to corrupt practices and practioners.  Consider this excerpt from a post at Marginal Revolution by Alex Taborrak:
In a delightful, short article on Economics and Morality, Timothy Taylor asks why economics has a reputation for leading to corruption: 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?
Arnold Kling gives one answer: I think that economics is singled out for opprobrium because of the way that it challenges the intention heuristic. The intention heuristic says that if the intentions of an act are selfless and well-meaning, then the act is good. If the intentions are self-interested, then it is not good. - 
Click here to read the Taylor piece and click here to read the Kling piece.  I recommend you do both as this is a very insightful, very important topic.