Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Economics and torture

Over on the Visible Hand in Economics, they are confirming the reputation of economists as deranged sociopaths and seriously asking why we don't torture people rather than imprisoning them:

Is this a case where economists are as guilty as anyone of shying away from an efficient solution because of the moral biases involved? Or is there a real reason why torture is shunned by our society while, simultaneously, calls for harsher prison sentences grow ever stronger?
The reason we don't is the same as the reason we don't allow people to rape children no matter how much they are willing to pay for the privilege: because it is wrong. Which is a roundabout way of saying that there are things beyond economics, and "real reasons" for decision-making other than narrow economic ones.

As for "moral biases", economics would do well to remove the beam from its own eye, and recognise that it is in fact a rather vulgur monetarist implementation of utilitarianism and hence loaded with moral preconceptions (some quite questionable), rather than the morally-neutral, unbiased science they like to paint it as.