Economics: A Science or Not?

I came across this truly interesting book, Truth Versus Precision in Economics (1993) by Thomas Mayer. I’m still only on p. 16, but endnote 1 in chapter one provided fodder for my thinking about economics and science:

I see no purpose in discussing whether economics actually is a science. Philosophers have not succeeded in finding a criterion that distinguishes science from non-science […], and the question whether a field is an empirical science may even lack clear meansing […]. Fortunately, nothing hinges on whether one calls economics a science or not, and the question can be left to lexicographers. Knowing whether economics is a science would not allow us to decide whether  it should use the same methods as the natural sciences, since not all sciences necessarily us the same methods. What methods economics should use can be decided better by looking at specific methods and specific problems than by talking in general about ‘scientific method’. Similarly, knowing whether economics is a science would not allow us to say whether it provides answers that deserve a high degree of credence. The science of weather forecasting does not, while the non-science of history does [p. 8, paperback edition].

I agree that nothing really important hinges on whether economics belong to the (hard) sciences or not (what matters is that it is scientific). But, Mayer doesn’t seem to recognize that the English science has lost it’s propper meaning (here’s McCloskey’s explanation): Science means ‘systematic inquiry’ in any other language.

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4 Responses to “Economics: A Science or Not?”

  1. How do I start a career in fitness? | Fitness Methods Says:

    […] Economics: A Science or Not? « Kvams […]

  2. A Vertical Division of Economics « Kvams Says:

    […] of Economics By kvams Alright, this book (Truth Versus Precision in Economics, Tom Mayer) is so interesting that I’ve put Shakey aside for a while (in the middle of ‘Ohio’). I’m […]

  3. Truth Versus Precision in Economics by Thomas Mayer « Kvams Says:

    […] Economics: A Science or Not? […]

  4. crisismaven Says:

    Hello, maybe this can be of help for you and your readers: I have just added a Reference List to my economics blog with economic data series, history, bibliographies etc. for students & researchers. Currently over 200 meta sources, it will in the next days grow to over a thousand. Check it out and if you miss something, feel free to leave a comment.

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