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Fact, Value, and Economic Policy Objectives

John E. Elliott
Review of Social Economy
Vol. 63, No. 3, The Best of the "Review of Social Economy": 1944-1999 (SEPTEMBER 2005), pp. 447-464
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/29770331
Page Count: 18
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Fact, Value, and Economic Policy Objectives
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Abstract

Elliott examines three central issues in this article published originally in 1980: (1) the interdependence between fact and value; (2) policy objectives as a social fact, subject to explanation; and (3) evaluation of policy objectives. His concern however is more with identifying questions and issues than in providing definitive answers. As to the fact/value dichotomy, Elliott insists that because facts typically are influenced by valuational judgment, a completely valuationally neutral economic theory is impossible. Values, to Elliott's mind, are facts of a very special kind. As to the second issue, the formulation of economic policy objectives, the evaluation of programs in terms of their goals, and the construction of goal-oriented programs are among the most significant facts of economic life. Regarding the third issue, evaluation of policy objectives requires both scientific knowledge of goals and a set of explicit normative standards with which that knowledge may be confronted and in terms of which evaluations may be made.

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