+1 vote
asked ago in General Economics Questions by (1.3k points)
Nobel season is here. Some people, who seem to be strong contenders based on their research, don't seem to come up as contenders presumably for ethical concerns or public embarrassments from their past (I have specific people in mind, but please keep this hypothetical). Can people actually be disqualified over these issues? and if they are, should they be, particularly if the ethical issues have nothing to do with their research contributions?

2 Answers

+2 votes
answered ago by (2.3k points)
Why keep it hypothetical?
 I hope the Nobels are kept to scholarly achievement, since otherwise there'd have to be some very hard lines to draw about scholars who are unfaithful to their wives,  engage in financial fraud, are involved in sexual perversion, do drugs, and so forth. I hope also that their political views are kept out of it. The Peace Prize is an embarassment because of its use as a political tool. There'sa  good book on that called, I think, Peace They Say.
0 votes
answered ago by (250 points)
I think the committee should be concerned with the ethics of their laureates. The main reason is that bad actors in academia have an unknown but potentially very large negative effect on the field, and society at large. Suppose we have a barely-veiled-hypothetical economist who publishes truly groundbreaking work while repeatedly harrassing women, dissuading them from continuing with economic research and stunting their career opportunities. He may, at the end of his career, have a staggering number of high-impact publications on record but we'll have no measure of lost output in terms of ruined careers. We don't want to reward folks without having a good idea of the net effect of their career.

And this shouldn't just stop with bad behavior within academia, because at least in my opinion, the goal of such a prize should be to reward overall societal impact, not just citation count.