Can economics identify which local cultural attitudes are universally valuable for the economic systems? A system that depends on value judgements cannot be adequately studied without including values as a factor for the operation of the system. Yet, a scientific study of values should be objective, without deterministic subjective labelling of values as good or bad. The current study suggests these two criteria can be met by following the Culture-Based Development (CBD) approach, which proposes that the universality of a value should be positively analyzed against its objective effect on a socio-economic output of interest.
The question about the importance of values for the existence of economies and society has been an integral part of science since its very dawn. Providing a comprehensive summary of the literature would therefore be always incomplete. The essence of the novel mixed method of literature review used here entails two steps: (i) a systematic literature review covering contributions from 1677 till 2020 on economic thought on values, culture, wellbeing and welfare and earlier philosophical contributions that this economic research built on (reviewing material mainly from Jstor, Web of Science, Google Scholar and Science Direct); and then (ii) an integrative literature review that synthesizes and recombines main perspectives from part one, in order to create a new theoretical model (of value free analysis of values). The second part is what is reported in the paper, but the first part ensures that the review is non-biased [1
]. Thus, this paper conducts a mixed method of systematic-integrative literature review and outlines several cornerstones in the literature of particular importance to economics as a field and fundamental for the here proposed specific CBD approach for the value-free analysis of values.
Modern moral philosophy, propelled by Sen and Nussbaum’s research, calls for a return to the question of values in studying the factors for economic development [3
]. Revisiting the argonauts of philosophy and sciences, Plato, and his student Aristotle, we choose to highlight here two main concepts, which are very compatible with each other. Plato (Republic 375 BC) is known for his parable of the cave, suggesting that cultural relativity of values exists due to the individual’s local bias in the perception of the pure truth. Pure truth is presented by the parable as a flame and one’s perception of pure truth is equivalent to only the reflection of this flame on the walls of one’s own ‘cave’ (i.e., one’s context). Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics 350 BCE) suggested that a ‘golden mean’ of every value exists. Put differently, too much or too little affinity towards a particular value never leads to the most optimal behavior. Instead, an individual needs to empirically find out where the most-useful (i.e., ‘golden’) mean level of affinity to a value should be placed in order to live a really good life. Next, the father of economics as a moral philosophy, Adam Smith [10
], suggested his own theory of moral sentiments, relying to a big extent on the notion of the ‘Impartial’ Spectator. In line with work by Khalil [11
], the latter notion is interpreted in this study as the presence of a socially prescribed and internally monitored value system, which is in essence the outline of the cultural cave in which we are embedded. These three classical approaches to studying values have been deserted in neoclassical economics for decades.
In the 1930s, the urge for a value-free study of economics was suggested by neoclassical economists [12
]. It was argued that utility and culture are difficult to measure and explain. It was hoped that a study of the economy as a system, operating on certain value-free mechanisms, could help reveal these mechanisms and put them in service for socio-economic recovery and development [14
]. It was however, soon realized that it is impossible to mechanically separate culture from the economic mechanisms. Signals for this problem started being powerfully sent by important contributions to the new economic academic world [15
]. The work by Herbert Simon, Tibor Scitovsky, Daniel Kahneman has pointed to the cultural- and value-dependence of the macro economics of place development and micro economics of customer behavior [17
]. Yet, the cultural economics field became too diverse and internally disintegrated, and remained mostly apocrypha and muted in the majority of its contributions, ultimately evolving into a misperception that there needs to be necessarily some deep methodological divide between neoclassical and institutional (cultural) economics.
It was only in recent years that New Institutional Economics (NIE) realized and started promoting the alternative more natural thesis—that actually using a common methodological ground might be the key to ameliorating the general economic field and its understanding of culture and values.
New Institutional Economics (NIE) revolutionalized the field of institutional economics by opening its doors in a pluralistic manner to the use of empirical methods. NIE promoted the quantitative study of institutions and culture [20
]. Studies building on this literature have empirically demonstrated that there is persistence and path-dependence in the process of impact by cultural institutions on socio-economic development [21
]. Working on a very similar vein, one of the fathers of modern Political Economy, Alesina and Perotti [22
], demonstrate how empirical neoclassical models can accommodate for the study of the impact by political and voting behavior on the economic process. The entire field of New Cultural Economics (NCE) has also generated numerous elaborate empirical studies demonstrating the various effects of cultural variables on various economic processes [23
]. Alesina, Miano and Stancheva [25
] also discuss the endogeneity of values and beliefs.
Yet, among all these institutional and neoclassical value-related empirical studies, no systematic positive methodology for value-free analysis of values has precipitated. The study of values needs to rely on a comprehensive methodology which can allow to the field of political economy to achieve economic synthesis on the basis of the accumulated empirical evidence. Only at the presence of a clear methodology, the economic meaning of the various empirical studies of values can be clearly comparably analyzed. The current study aims at proposing such a methodology, stemming from the CBD paradigm.
CBD is a research paradigm which defines development as a process that depends on economic decisions which are inevitably culturally embedded and biased. In this study, CBD suggests a systematic approach to value-free study of any value in three steps through: (i) establishing whether the value has a universal impact across space, (ii) detecting if its impact exhibits nonlinearities (such as Aristotle’s golden mean suggests) and (iii) explaining through Platonian cultural relativity how the universality of moral values and the presence of diverse local culturally dependent ethics can find a coherent conceptual and empirical explanation.
The paper is structured as follows: Section 2
provides an overview of the main literature that underpins the CBD value-free analysis of values approach. Section 3
describes the main conceptual postulates of this CBD approach. Section 4
explains the proposed methodological rationale. Finally, Section 5
offers some concluding remarks and comments on further operationalizations of the CBD approach in the field of economic study of values.
2. Modern Moral Philosophy and Value-Free Analysis of Values
Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum claimed recently that economics needs to reconcile with moral philosophy again [3
]. But what is moral philosophy and why has it been disregarded as a central pillar in mainstream economics? The position of this paper is that Sen’s and Nussbaum’s plea is very timely but it has to and can be implemented meaningfully not through a return to old moral philosophy approaches, but through devising a modern methodological approach that seeks to find out the universal natural value by finding the universal mean of values that are observed as predominant across societies. The approach proposed here is also substantially different from the classical positivistic school approach [30
]. The CBD approach defines the observed mean as the contemporaneously enacted morality of the contemporary world, which is only one of many possible worlds, and not necessarily the natural universal human morality, the need for which transcends time and space. Moreover, local culture is not simply the sum of the present individual attitudes, but is also weighted for the power of the groups holding certain attitudes, thus ensuring a positive value-free analysis of the ‘universality’ of values and attitudes
The distinction between attitudes, values, ethics and morals here is adopted in line with the following operational definitions which sum up the state of the art on these notions as understood by the author of the current study. Attitudes are modes of thinking. The level of positive affinity (passion) that we experience with regard to an attitude is the level to which we value it and determines how strongly it acts as our value. Some values enjoy high affinity among localities or groups of people—such values are called ethics of the locality or group. Ethics is usually thought of as professional ethics but is generalizable to any group valuation of attitudes, which in neo-Weberian way can be understood as local culture. Local culture is the set of attitudes the local population has strongest affinities for. Therefore, local culture can be perceived as local ethics. Finally, observed human moral is the set of attitudes for which all human beings have a strong affinity in comparison to all other attitudes. In this sense, there is a universal set of values shaping a universal moral, which is shared by all people around the world. Morality is part of human needs and we have a natural drive for seeking truly moral behavior. Yet, the absolute natural moral, just like truth, is aspired, but not fully known to any human being or group of people in any point of time and space. People may only have different level of intuition as to what the absolute moral holds. The quality of this intuition depends on their unique level of inborn ability, their achieved level of knowledge, and the socially constructed experience that they have had. Thus, intuition varies strongly across individuals even within the same cultural background [35
In his Theory of Moral Sentiments
], Adam Smith defines moral philosophy as a study of the system of the modes of thinking that are of value (a study of virtues) which affect the decision making process and behavior of people. In this moral philosophy study, he then outlines two main sub-questions: (i) what is virtuous and (ii) what are the mechanisms (i.e., in Smith’s words the ‘principles’ of the ‘mind’) by which virtues affect choice (i.e., the ways certain values become ‘recommended to us’ as the virtues and character which we aspire to demonstrate through our choice). The answer to the first revolves around the construction of an ‘Impartial’ Spectator’—i.e., an objective moral code—within us, against which we measure the choices of the world and ourselves. The answer to the second sub-question is feasible to find, in Smith’s understanding, since there exist universal natural mechanisms (‘principles’) which repeat across different cultural systems and this guarantees the objectivity of the ‘Impartial’ Spectator [10
] (pp. 315–316). However, in line with Sen’s thinking [26
], the objectivity of this ‘Impartial’ Spectator and his ability to be universally moral has been questioned due to his dependence on man-made cultural values.
Values are subjective (unique for every individual [36
]) and relative (varying across cultures as perception what is virtuous [37
]). These subjectivity and relativity of values have been the apple of discord between moral philosophy and value-free economics since the early dawn of the study of economics [12
]. What is defined as good and bad is inevitably a cultural artefact of its time and place [41
]. Gaining this understanding, although it started as a moral philosophy in its old welfare economics state, the economic discipline shifted towards a completely value-free study of economic systems, partially also in order to secure its place among the rest of the academic disciplines. This was soon realized as too high a price for the status of a science among sciences as it was skipping to analyze a crucially important factor of choice—values [18
]. But mainstream economics pursued its completely value-free course for a long while, completely ignoring the role of psychology and even more so of attitudes, values and culture. It took decades until the NCE, starting its dawn with Douglas North’s work on institutions [47
] and Kahneman’s work on psychology in economic choice [51
] (for which comprehensive reviews can be found [52
]). These seminal works led to a wave of modern contributions on evidence of the impact from culture on economic development that married again the study of values with the mainstream economic discipline, establishing the field of NCE [24
]. The focus of these studies has, however, remained primarily on what Smith outlined as the second key issue of moral philosophy; namely, exploring the mechanisms through which cultural values might affect economic outputs. The first sub-question posed by Smith in front of moral philosophy—as to which values are virtuous indeed—remains unanswered.
Sen and Nussbaum’s claim regards exactly this empty niche in modern economics and NCE specifically. They point out that understanding merely the efficiency of economic choices and economic systems (even under the impact of values) might not be enough to contribute to understanding how to achieve a flourishing human society. Sen and Nussbaum’s take agrees with what Smith who depicts the rational essence of the moral system as a function of sympathy. Namely, we read in Smith: “Of all the calamities to which the condition of mortality exposes mankind, the loss of reason appears, to those who have the least spark of humanity, by far the most dreadful, and they behold that last stage of human wretchedness with deeper commiseration than any other. But the poor wretch, who is in it, laughs and sings perhaps, and is altogether insensible of his own misery. The anguish which humanity feels, therefore, at the sight of such an object, cannot be the reflection of any sentiment of the sufferer. The compassion of the spectator must arise altogether from the consideration of what he himself would feel if he was reduced to the same unhappy situation, and, what perhaps is impossible, was at the same time able to regard it with his present reason and judgment.”, [10
] (p. 17). According to Sen and Nussbaum’s capabilities approach, the list of capabilities that are virtuous or that at least guarantee elementary human dignity should be the aim of economic decision making for the betterment of human life and not merely for securing a more efficient economic system for its own sake [62
]. While this claim is clearly contemporarily morally and sentimentally appealing, it still stumbles on its way to universality over the same criticism that Smith’s ‘Impartial’ Spectator has been subject to. Namely, even in Smith’s own words, every human moral code is ‘derived from a partial and imperfect view of nature’, therefore our mind and our ‘Impartial’ Spectators are always subjective. This fact has been recognized by Smith himself in many places in TMS in great detail when describing the role of physical/social proximity such as in the Little Finger example and his dwellings on economic relativity (such as relative wage/richness) and custom (in Part I and Part V in TMS [10
]). Therefore, defining prescriptively our subjectively defined virtues and/or a set of desirable capabilities cannot be the answer to Smith’s first sub-question in moral philosophy. Namely, Sen [27
] seems repeatedly to claim that our moral judgement should remain always subjective by accentuating the importance of freedom of choice in his capabilities approach. Yet, just allowing for freedom in the definition of what is virtuous or universally valuable means that it will remain unclear how to precisely answer Smith’s first sub-question in moral philosophy in a consistent accurate manner [63
]. As noted by Kant in his ‘Critique of Pure Reason’: “We may certainly collect from phenomena a law, according to which this or that usually happens, but the element of necessity is not to be found in it” [64
]. The CBD approach agrees with this particular statement for the following reasons. Even if we had a full data record of the evolution of the perceptions of good and bad since we were in existence as species, all we can positively empirically learn from this is what is most probable that people tended to choose as good and as bad over the centuries. Yet, this still leaves us without an objective qualitative reference point to know whether the world has always been right or wrong in its perceptions of what is good and bad. Meanwhile, what is accepted as moral changes over time is usually based on some dichotomy, thus things previously accepted as moral become considered amoral over time. Consequently, the positive search for probable correct moral is trapped in circular causality and reaffirming the past without really knowing what the perception of good and bad really has to be in order to be correct and true. How to appease, then, the lack of knowledge on what is true virtue with the need to device a moral philosophical base for policy making which is in need of prescriptive and not only descriptive studies of the economic system and values? In other words, how can a value-free study of virtues and values be devised, so that universal values are identified positively, outside the biases of the scientists’ ‘Impartial’ Spectators—i.e., the scientist’s own subjectivity and relativity of values? This problem has also been widely recognized in sociology and anthropology, which consider the study of human beings by human beings as a main challenge in front of the objectivity of the scientific analysis in social and human sciences [65
It is proposed here to heed Sen’s and Nussbaum’s advice for a return to moral philosophy but through a new methodological take. Namely, by applying the CBD approach for studying the impact of cultural values on economic choice in a positive value-free method for the analysis of values.
4. Main Principles of the CBD Value-Free Analysis of Values
Ultimately, CBD seeks to analyze the objective effect of an attitude on the output without implying any qualitative judgement whether this is a good or a bad (virtuous or not virtuous) outcome i.e., in a value-free manner. Moreover, CBD aims to offer a roadmap for answering both the first Adam Smith’s question about moral philosophy (whether a value is universally virtuous), and also his second question, regarding the systematic internal mechanisms and complexities of this impact. CBD does so through a positive methodology and with a different rationale than what has been done so far.
Addressing the first question, the CBD value-free study of values leads us to first objectively identify whether a value/attitude is universally-contributive to certain outcomes of interest, without involving subjective pre-determined classifications or prescriptions of what should be thought as ‘virtuous’. Here, the CBD approach suggests focusing the analysis on a positive exploration of what are the objective observed consequences of certain values.
Addressing the second question, the CBD approach suggests accounting for the complexity of culture and the non-linearity of its impact [97
]. CBD classifies a value’s universality based on positively documented trans-geographical and trans-cultural impact of this value on certain outcomes of interest. CBD distinguishes between a true universal/moral value and a culturally biased universal value. The distinction between the two types of universal values is based on the objective universality of the impact from the value with regards to the same outcome across space as opposed to presence of local cultural bias (expressed in heterogeneity of the impact across space). Put differently, the CBD addresses the second question by finding out in a positive manner whether a certain value behaves as: (i) part of a truly universal ‘Impartial’ Spectator (of Adam Smith’s original type); or (ii) a value that has (a) a varying significance across time and space and also (b) only a partial, in terms of weak, Culturally Biased Spectator (i.e., ultimately boundedly partial ‘Impartial’ Spectators (due to doxa, as defined in the previous section)). Thus, the CBD proposed approach of value-free analysis of values entails a procedure composed of three clear cut methodological steps, as detailed below.
4.1. When Is a Value Universal?
CBD proposes the positive study of values to start with the clear acknowledgement of the Cartesian doubt, i.e., the limitation of the mind in knowing the absolute truth even based on induction. CBD recognizes that the natural moral cannot be readily known by human deduction or induction, and yet, CBD proposes a positive study of values, aiming to understand: (i) whether they are potentially of universal benefit with regard to particular outcome of interest and (ii) if so-how much deviation (cultural bias) exists locally with regards to these universal values in the current world. Put differently, CBD proposes to study positively the universality of the impact from values through empirical methods regarding particular outcomes. This positive approach purges the value judgementalism in the analysis of values by basing the classification on observed outcomes.
Namely, the first step of the proposed CBD approach to value-free analysis of values is consistent as method with what is done so far in quantitative studies in cultural economics, but the CBD interpretation of the results is from a different perspective. It still entails identifying a measure or proxy for a certain cultural value that varies across individuals or places, and then testing whether this value-related variable exhibits statistical significance for the outcome of interest [23
]. However, it judges the universal ‘virtuousness’ of the value based on the statistical significance it can exhibit. Clearly, this testing requires precise model and quantitative method, implemented at the presence of individual and space related fixed effects and relevant controls and other explanatory variables that fully specify the model.
The above first step of the CBD approach is in line with Adam Smith’s suggestion that universal values are a natural global tendency of all ‘Impartial’ Spectators’, who indifferent of their subjective and culturally relative bias are generally converging towards a common natural tendency worldwide (see Glick [98
] on cultural relativity and differences between culture and morality from anthropological perspective and Littlewood [99
] for an extensive literature review on the matter). Smith’s claim that a worldwide predominant value is universal however is treated by CBD as in essence a deterministic claim. Instead, CBD first positively tests whether the affinity to the value produces the desired outcome of interest and only then classifies this value as universal. Thus, it is not the presence of affinity but the outcome of this affinity that CBD uses to define the universality of the value in a value-free manner.
4.2. Aristotelian Kuznets Curve
Aristotle’s and Plato’s view on values are sometimes considered as opposing since Aristotle’s view suggests that some middle enacted level of an attitude is best (virtuous), while Plato generally suggests that nothing practiced is as good as the real true best (virtue) [100
]. Yet, CBD interprets these two stands as simply alternative aspects of virtue. Aristotle’s take regards the amount of affinity (passion) and its eventual turning point above which the effect of the value of the outcome changes sign after a certain increase in amount of affinity to this value. Plato’s take on virtue, instead, is embraced by CBD from the perspective of its meaning for regional cultural relativity, namely: the local natural moral can be seen as always deviating from the natural ideal mean due to local cultural biases and path-dependencies in culture.
] demonstrated that the concentration of people in cities had first a positive, then a negative association with certain regional development aspects such as inequality. Similar relationship of urbanization with pollution was termed the environmental Kuznets curve [103
]. CBD reinterprets this in Aristotelian golden mean sense, as the ‘goodness’ of the value to be in the city being first associated with a positive outcome, yet, with the increase in affinity to this value, an inflection point in the impact occurs, and its impact becomes positive (entailing many complex economic reasons for this switch of sign).
Therefore, CBD proposes that at a second step, after identifying the universality of a certain value, the analysis of its impact should go beyond asking whether an impact exists universally and should disentangle how exactly this impact is generated. Namely, CBD points to the importance of acknowledging the Aristotelian notion of the ‘golden mean’ of a value. Aristotle, whom Smith largely follows in his dwelling on virtue, suggests that a virtue is not an extreme but a well-measured optimally balanced point between two extremes of affinity to an attitude. For example, too much affinity to the attitude that good humour is important may result in a phoney clownish behavior, and too little affinity to this attitude may result into low spiritedness.
Thus, the positive approach proposed by CBD coins here the notion of Aristotelian Kuznets Curve which can be used to conduct the empirical analysis of the impact from a value in terms of the existence of an inflection point. Such an inflection point will document a non-linearity in the impact from this value (i.e., a form of Kuznets curve type of relationship between the increase in affinity to an attitude (how much virtuous a virtue is perceived) and its impact on the outcome of interest). This Kuznets curve relationship should be thought of in absolute terms as a nonlinearity of the impact at the presence of a linear increase in the input. Thus, the presence of an inflection point is interesting in itself, indifferent if it switches from positive to negative impact or vice versa. This is part of the value-free rationale proposed here by CBD.
If such an inflection point is found to exist, then Amartya Sen’s claim that freedom of capabilities is a universal value will be positively empirically confirmed. Namely, a Kuznets curve of this kind will signify that too much of any virtuous/‘good thing’ (too much of affinity to an universal value, may become, after a certain level of affinity, less conducive to the outcome of interest (i.a. there are prominent contributions to growth theory, showing that too much investment in R&D becomes negatively impacting the economic growth process [105
]). Therefore, when the inflection point is reached, people should have the freedom to switch their order of preferences and opt out from further increases in their affinity to this value if they want to optimize the cultural value input and to maximize the outcome of interest.
Put differently, it is crucial that decision makers have the freedom to constantly update themselves on whether their level of affinity to a certain attitude is currently below, at or above the inflection point of the Aristotelian Kuznets curve and to change their order of preferences accordingly, so that their overall utility is indeed maximized through their choice. Yet, the existence of an Aristotelian Kuznets curve in the relationship between the amount of an affinity to a value and the amount of a certain outcome of interest is an empirical question.
4.3. Platonian Cultural Bias: Subjectivity and Relativity of the ‘Impartial’ Spectator
Adam Smith himself noted that the ‘Impartial’ Spectator is prone to individual subjectivity and cultural relativity biases due to customs and social proximity (TMS, Part I, Chapter I–V; Part V, Chapter I). CBD agrees with this, by understanding it from Plato’s point of view that the true moral is an unknown ideal state of calibration of the affinity to certain values (a view that has been pointed out also in related research [99
]. Local ethics represent only ‘reflections from the flame’ of this ideal on the local ‘cave’ of a particular time and space. Thus, CBD states that local cultural capital creates local culturally biased ‘morals’ which have been transmitted across generations through the persistence of group ethics.
CBD therefore proposes as a third step the analysis of universal values to pass through the empirical cleaning of subjectivity and positive documentation of its geographic relativity. In particular, CBD suggests that the individual subjectivity of values can be treated as individual uniqueness (see Shackle [36
]) and can be cured empirically through the use of individual fixed effects. CBD has also been flagging elsewhere (see for instance [69
]) the danger of ‘throwing the baby with the water’, since an under-specification of an empirical model may result due to the omission of the cultural factor and simple use of individual fixed effects. Use of fixed effects without presence of cultural explanatory variables results in inability to analyze the cultural effect on individual choice. Here, however, we recommend use of individual fixed effects in the presence of cultural explanatory variables).
Meanwhile, the cultural relativity of values and moral systems can be understood and handled in the analysis as a local (ethical/cultural) bias over the ‘fellow-feeling’ which dictates the ‘Impartial’ Spectators ‘sentimental’ reasoning (for some recent contributions on the role of feelings/emotions in socio-economic behavior, see Borowecki [107
] from an economic perspective, and Nussbaum [8
] from a philosophical perspective). This bias is sometimes termed in the economic literature as ‘home bias’ [108
]. This cultural relativity bias has in its roots the local cultural capital and it creates nestedness of the individual observations in local cultural groups. This nestedness has to be empirically modelled accordingly in order to cure the Platonian cultural bias from identifying the impact of a value. The use of hierarchical modelling or other related methods that stochastically account for both the individual and local effects in the data are suggested to cure the Platonian subjective and cultural relativity.
provides a synthesis of the above proposed three steps. It depicts the logic tree behind the three steps that the CBD value-free analysis of values suggests and sums up the main rationale for each step. Implementing the three steps of the CBD value-free analysis of values can help determine whether a value has a universal socio-economic significance; whether there is some limit to its exploitation (if there is an inflection point shaping an Aristotelian Kuznets curve); and whether it is subject to cultural biases that can make the transferability of interventions with regard to this value sensitive to the context in which they are implemented (pointing precisely analytically to what structural level drives the effect in the economic system).
The current study sought to provide a methodological road-map for implementing a value-free analysis of values. Providing such a road-map can answer the needs for merging modern moral philosophy, political economy and economic analysis and planning, identified by major figures in the field (such as Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum [3
The current paper provided its proposed roadmap to value-free analysis of values, basing it on the rereading of three classical notions related to values (the Aristotelian golden mean; Platonian cave of cultural relativity and perception; and Adam Smith’s ‘Impartial’ Spectator), which were revisited and reinterpreted from the point of view of the novel research paradigm of CBD.
The CBD approach to the value-free analysis of values follows the overarching principle that the ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’ of a value can be known only positively, by observing the generalizable effect from high affinity to this value to certain socio-economic outcome of interest across individuals, time and space. The CBD value-free analysis of values proposes in particular three steps of analysis: (i) identifying whether there is a universal effect from the value; (ii) delving into the non-linearities of this effect through what CBD calls the Aristotelian Kuznets Curve and (iii) delving further in the structural levels at which this effect is generated (individual and local), thus accounting for Plantonian relativity of values. This CBD approach allows the empirical positive study of the cultural effect in its complexity. It avoids determinism but allows us to achieve higher world view awareness as well as precision (than what the literature so far has demonstrated) in the observation and monitoring of the effect from culture with better understanding as to why we observe that culture matters and how this effect is likely to evolve over time and space.
The value-free analysis of values enables an economic analysis which starts from the standard value-free empirical identification of an effect from cultural values, but it takes the analysis two steps further from the fallacy of misplaced concreteness [12
]. This fallacy implies that empirical work may identify an effect from a certain factor in a particular moment of time, yet this may not be evidence for the presence of a deterministic economic law about this relationship. First, the CBD approach can precisely capture an important part of the nonlinearity of the impact from values. Namely, it can signal when too much of a good thing can start turning the effect in reverse [105
]. Second, it accounts for the complexity (in line among others with modern DSG and Agent Based modelling rationales) and the understanding that the macro effects have micro-foundations. Nowadays, empirical methods can allow for quantifying and precisely observing these dependencies and CBD points to the availability of these tools and advices for their application when the study of values is at stake.
Finally, the proposed CBD approach to value-free analysis of values is not only a methodological rationale for how values should be quantified and positively studies, but it also offers a world view for path cutting through the existing plethora of contributions on values, showing how the value-free analysis of values can accommodate for many essential classical premises about the good life (stemming from the time of Plato and Aristotle [112
]) and the fundaments of Adam Smith’s theory of moral sentiments.
Last, but not least, the CBD approach to value-free analysis of values, precipitates the common red line that unites the wealth of seemingly loosely related quantitative studies in the field of political Economy, NCE and NIE. CBD points to the theoretical underpinnings that unite and consolidate these studies around a logical common methodological approach. It allows a more efficient comparison and theoretical synthesis between studies on values that may use different quantitative proxies for culture and values in their empirical operationalization, but can become comparable on the basis of applying the common CBD paradigm and its value free research approach to values as a fundament of the socio-economic process. This elevates the modern empirical cultural economics to a next level of conceptual, theoretical and analytical horizons.