Many macroeconomic theorists appear utterly reluctant to accept the abject disaster that macroeconomic theory has become, as made evident by the crisis that started in 2007.
It just occurred to me today that, since most economists, and even more so most macroeconomists, are unquestioningly utilitarian (why else are they always looking to maximize criteria such as a representative agent’s discounted present value of lifetime utility?), they may be just unaware of the repugnant conclusion from population ethics and yet their work pushes the world towards it. Here is a succinct presentation from the page just linked:
In Derek Parfit’s original formulation the Repugnant Conclusion is characterized as follows: “For any possible population of at least ten billion people, all with a very high quality of life, there must be some much larger imaginable population whose existence, if other things are equal, would be better even though its members have lives that are barely worth living” (Parfit 1984).
This seems to me to be consonant with the approach of the austerians, who rely on mainstream DSGE models in macroeconomics to make recommendations to make a great number of presently living people more and more miserable with austerity measures, in order to safeguard the well-being of future generations, which the austerians think they only know how to do. Never mind the obvious fact that austerity measures don’t even advance the cause of a market economy and economic growth; all they do is give political power to neonazis and leftist extremists.
Can you tell I am first and foremost an incorrigible economic theorist? Here the world may well be entering a second Great Depression, to be capped off with widespread war, and I am talking about arcane philosophical topics. Except that, there may, just may, be a glimmer of hope in getting austerians to realize just how badly their recommendations are behaving and to learn a bit more social welfare criteria than utilitarianism. (I know, I will keep dreaming.)
2 thoughts on “The repugnant conclusion and economic theory denialism”
DSGE models are useless in the real world.
While I agree with the spirit of your comment, I do not see how it offers something constructive or any evidence in favor of your assertion.