Value in Social Theory: A Selection of Essays on Methodology

By Gunnar Myrdal; Paul Streeten | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ELEVEN
THE LOGICAL CRUX OF ALL SCIENCE

1. THE RELATION BETWEEN THE MORAL AND THE INTELLECTUAL DISCORDS

W HEN the facts of international economic inequalities and their tendency to increase are confronted with the public conscience in the richer nations and with the economic theory which has developed in the cultural setting of those countries, both moral and intellectual discords are brought into the open.

The moral discord is undoubtedly more fundamental. On the one hand, these nations adhere on the general plane of valuations to the ideal, deep-rooted in Western civilization, of the rights of all individuals to equality of opportunity, irrespective of race and colour, religion and creed, social status and nationality. On the other hand, the citizens of these nations are not in fact prepared to accept in their daily lives the full implications of this great moral principle.

Economic theory is only a segment of the total culture. It partly serves the needs of opportunistic rationalization. In order to live comfortably with the moral discord these nations need an economic theory that diverts attention from this discord.

This need enhances the strength of those old predilections of economic theory which serve as antidotes to that theory's basic doctrine of equality. It also prolongs the life of theoretical devices that 'prove' those predilections, such as stable equilibrium models and the abstraction from 'non-economic' factors. Equilibrium analysis, with the positive value connotations attached to equilibrium, tends to confirm a bias for laissezfaire in policy. The separation of 'economic factors', together

____________________
1
From Economic Theory and Under-developed Regions, 1957, Chapter 12.

-231-

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Value in Social Theory: A Selection of Essays on Methodology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction ix
  • Part 1 1
  • Chapter Two - The Relation Between Social Theory and Social Policy 9
  • Part 2 55
  • Chapter Four - American Ideals and The American Conscience 65
  • Chapter Five - Valuations and Bbliefs 71
  • Chapter Six - Encountering the Negro Problem 89
  • Chapter Seven Facts and Valuations 119
  • Chapter Eight - Facets of the Negro Problem 165
  • Chapter Nine - The Principle of Cumulation 198
  • Part 3 206
  • Chapter Eleven - The Logical Crux of All Science 231
  • Postscript 237
  • Index 263
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