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A profession with an egalitarian core (The New York Times)

March 19, 2013

A New York Times article discusses research by Sandra Peart, dean of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies. Peart is a distinguished economist with special expertise in the history of economic thought and political economy, especially in the context of ethical leadership.


ECONOMICS is sometimes associated with the study and defense of selfishness and material inequality, but it has an egalitarian and civil libertarian core that should be celebrated. And that core may guide us in some surprising directions.

Economic analysis is itself value-free, but in practice it encourages a cosmopolitan interest in natural equality. Many economic models, of course, assume that all individuals are motivated by rational self-interest or some variant thereof; even the so-called behavioral theories tweak only the fringes of a basically common, rational understanding of people. The crucial implication is this: If you treat all individuals as fundamentally the same in your theoretical constructs, it would be odd to insist that the law should suddenly start treating them differently.

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