A failure to communicate: the fact-value divide and the Putnam-Dasgupta debate
Keywords:methodology, logical positivism, values, positive, normative
This paper considers the debate between economists and philosophers about the role of values in economic analysis by examining the recent debate between Hilary Putnam and Sir Partha Dasgupta. It argues that although there has been a failure to communicate there is much more agreement than it seems. If Dasgupta's work is seen as part of the methodological tradition expounded by John Stuart Mill and John Neville Keynes, economists and philosophers will have a better basis for understanding each other. Unlike the logical-positivist tradition, which treats facts and values as two mutually exclusive concepts, the Mill- Keynes tradition recognizes that facts and values are intertwined. Unlike the Smithian tradition, which blends the study of facts and normative rules, it divides economics into a science that studies "what is" and an art which considers "what ought to be done".