Sunday, June 14, 2015

Some Kind of an Index -- No Normative Connotations

Paul Samuelson,"Evaluation of Real National Income,"1950
Production possibilities as such have no normative connotations. We are interested in them for the light they throw on utility-possibilities. This is why economists have wanted to include such wasteful output as war goods in their calculations of national product; presumably they serve as some kind of an index of the useful things that might be produced in better times.
Or to paraphrase George Orwell, "If this boot wasn't stamping on your face, you could put it on your foot and it would keep your toes warm -- FOREVER!"


Thornton Hall said...

"Utilitarianism" is a theory of moral philosophy that fails for lack of an index of some kind. Economists use it unmodified and then claim for it the virtue of it not being moral philosophy.

Sandwichman said...

Sort of like the "value-free" value judgment that it is better to not make value judgments.