What Is Economics?

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.

- John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

Podcast of the Day

With the recent global economic crisis, many people wonder if our economic policies are built on sound principles or on dubious, unscientific claims. What kinds of assumptions does Economics make about markets and the behavior of producers and consumers? What kinds of assumptions does it make about the rationality of individuals? How, if at all, are those claims empirically verified? Or are they just speculative theories proven false by the current crisis? John and Ken pursue their rational self-interest with Alex Rosenberg from Duke University, author of Economics: Mathematical Politics or Science of Diminishing Returns?

Listen to the Philosophy Talk episode: Economics - Science or Cult?

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

...The fact that the discipline of economics hasn’t helped us improve our predictive abilities suggests it is still far from being a science, and may never be. Still, the misperceptions persist. A student who graduates with a degree in economics leaves college with a bachelor of science, but possesses nothing so firm as the student of the real world processes of chemistry or even agriculture.

Before the 1970s, the discussion of how to make economics a science was left mostly to economists. But like war, which is too important to be left to the generals, economics was too important to be left to the Nobel-winning members of the University of Chicago faculty. Over time, the question of why economics has not (yet) qualified as a science has become an obsession among theorists, including philosophers of science like us...

Continue reading the Alex Rosenberg and Tyler Curtain's article: What is Economics Good For?

Further Reading

Both the definition and the precise domain of economics are subjects of controversy within philosophy of economics. At first glance, the difficulties in defining economics may not appear serious. Economics is, after all, concerned with aspects of the production, exchange, distribution, and consumption of commodities. But this claim and the terms it contains are vague; and it is arguable that economics is relevant to a great deal more. It helps to approach the question, “What is economics?” historically, before turning to comments on contemporary features of the discipline.

Philosophical reflection on economics is ancient, but the conception of the economy as a distinct object of study dates back only to the 18th century...

Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on the Philosophy of Economics by Daniel M. Hausman

Related Topics

 CapitalismGame Theory | Globalization | Sociology

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