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Burden of Proof

By  and Peter Lewin and Peter Lewin


The very terms “efficient ” and “inefficient ” are terms of normative and not positive economics, so much the better: immense confusion has been sown by the pretense that we can pronounce “scientifically ” on matters of “efficiency ” without committing ourselves to any value judgments. —Mark Blaug, The Methodology of Economics (2d ed.) I examine here the connection between facts, values, and the burden of proof, and I suggest a relationship that is always present, though seldom acknowledged. We like to think of ourselves as conducting value-free scientific inquiry, yet values inevitably intrude. This inevitable intrusion does not necessarily suggest the abandonment of the attempt to keep facts and values separate, but it does suggest that we ought to make plain our prior moral commitments as an aid to those evaluating our findings. 1 This revelation is especially desirable in the design of experimental frameworks used to interpret the policy significance of the “evidence. ” Where one places the burden of proof in such a design is closely related to such prior moral commitments. I begin by reviewing the fact-value divide and the concepts of efficiency that usually accompany it. I consider some well-known problems with the concept of efficiency an

Year: 2007
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