In his final seminar as Deputy Director of INET's Economics of Sustainability Programme, Linus Mattauch reflected on how basic societalnarratives (such as “Capitalism is exploitation” and “Capitalism is liberation”, see Haidt, 2015) might influence economists' models and research design. He also discussed how such ideas guided his past and future agenda.
Linus argues that, on the one hand, contemporary textbook neoclassical economics has a `liberation bias’ as three important elements are largely absent from its models: (i) economic rents on fixed production factors, (ii) substantial assumptions about heterogeneous behaviour and (iii) welfare-reducing consumption. Changing this, however, results in a return to old economic thinking in a sense, that is, to an age of competing economic theory frameworks.
On the other hand, he proposed that the standard normative evaluations of policy have an `exploitation bias’: The dominant normative criteria in economics only acknowledge the moral language of liberal egalitarians. He concludes that new economic thinking will need to find innovative ways of including broader moral motives in economic models to make progress on policy issues central such as climate change, automation and inequality.