Since economics emerged as a modern discipline in the late 19th century, its practitioners have resisted formal ethical codes, said George F. DeMartino, an economist at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.
In "The Economist's Oath: On the Need for and Content of Professional Economic Ethics," to be published in January, Mr. DeMartino describes concerns dating to the 1920s about the influence of business on economic research, and cites multiple calls within the association for a code of conduct- all of which have been rebuffed.
After one such debate in 1994, the committee concluded that it might not have the relevant expertise to fairly judge ethical disputes; that a fair mechanism to resolve complaints would be hard to establish; and that any such effort could result in lawsuits and prove toothless because of a lack of sanctions for violators. "I can see the case for specific rules on conflicts of interests, but that doesn't begin to exhaust the ethical challenges that confront economists," Mr. DeMartino said.
Other articles discussing/featuring Professor George DeMartino's new book:
January 27, 2011 Professor DeMartino blogs on OUP about disclosure of conflicts of
interest and his research for his book, The Economist's Oath
January 14, 2011, Unintended Consequences- Professor DeMartino interviewed by the Economist