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George DeMartino: The Tragic Science: How Economists Cause Harm (Even as they Aspire to do Good)

January 18, 2023
Wednesday 12:00 PM
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George F. DeMartino, Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, will discuss how Economists necessarily do damage as they aspire to do good. One obvious reason is that economic policy interventions have uneven impacts—a problem that economists have wrestled with for well over a century. A second reason is equally important but largely repressed in the profession. Economists face “irreparable ignorance” in their work. Not least, economists can’t know causality in the social world, or the future impacts of policy interventions taken today. But too often economists treat their models as time travel machines that can give them access to tomorrow, today. Sadly, there are no time travel machines. And acceptance of that fact requires a fundamental reconsideration of how economists practice their art.

Dr. DeMartino is a political economist whose research focuses on the intersection of ethics and economics. He studies the ethical foundations of economic policy and theory, the ethical conduct of economists, and the nature and causes of the harms that are often associated with economists’ practice. He teaches in these areas and on international trade, values-based leadership, and political economy theory. He is a past president of the Association for Social Economics and a current board member of the Association for Integrity and Responsible Leadership in Economics and Associated Professions.

His recent books include The Economist’s Oath (Oxford University Press), the Oxford Handbook of Professional Economic Ethics, co-edited with Deirdre N. McCloskey, and The Tragic Science: How Economists Cause Harm (even as they aspire to do good), University of Chicago Press. At Korbel he co-directs the MA degree in Global Economic Affairs. The Tragic Science: How Economists Cause Harm (Even as They Aspire to Do Good) University of Chicago Press, was Reviewed in the New York Review of Books, is In Top 16 Finance Books of 2022, Big Ideas Club Magazine and was selected among the Best Science Books, Nature.

Prior to graduate school Dr. DeMartino was a labor organizer and negotiator for AFSCME, AFL-CIO in Connecticut.

A copy of this webinar is now available here: