Ethics in economics: lessons from human subjects research


  • Megan Blomfield University of Bristol



experimental economics, positive-normative distinction, research ethics


Many economists, it is said, "are inclined to deny that moral philosophy has anything to do with economics" (Hausman and McPherson 2006, 291). In this paper I challenge such inclinations by drawing an analogy between economic interventions and human subjects research. It is undeniable that investigators engaged in the latter should adhere to specific ethical principles. I argue that analogous features of economic interventions should lead us to recognise that similar ethical concerns actually arise in both activities, and thus that economic interventions should also be conducted in accordance with ethical principles. By exploring the analogy further I formulate some ethical guidelines for economic practice, which in turn imply that ethical responsibilities will extend to all members of the economics profession.

Author Biography

Megan Blomfield, University of Bristol

Megan Blomfield is a PhD candidate at the University of Bristol (UK). Her current research focuses on questions of global justice that are raised by the problem of climate change. Her paper “Global common resources and the just distribution of emission shares” is forthcoming in The Journal of Political Philosophy.




How to Cite

Blomfield, M. (2012). Ethics in economics: lessons from human subjects research. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 5(1), 24-44.