How Normative Should Economics Be?
By Bryan Caplan
Almost all economists take one of the following three positions on normative economics:
1. Economics should never be normative. Economics is about what is, not what should be.
2. Economics should be normative about government policy, but not individual behavior. Economics is about identifying sound policies, not saving souls.
3. Economics should be normative about both government policy and individual behavior. Economics is about identifying sound decisions in every walk of life.
(Of course, there is a fourth logically possible position – economics should be normative for individuals but not for government policy – but as far as I know no one holds this position).
What’s your position – and why?