If Economics Is a Science, What Kind of a Science Is It?

Alex Rosenberg

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Economics

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780195189254
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

If Economics Is a Science, What Kind of a Science Is It?

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  • Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Epistemology



To begin with, economics has a paradigm, as plainly exhibited by the uniformity of its textbooks. It is a commonplace that unlike every other social and behavioral science, the introductory texts in economics are all pretty much the same. By and large you could permute the problems at the ends of chapters among the five largest selling textbooks in the field and still test students' understanding of the chapters they had actually read. Second, the language of the discipline is highly mathematized. Third, the discipline has identifiable proprietary laws, albeit inexact ones, and a set of proprietary kinds, which the discipline's “discipline” requires be applied to the solution of puzzles. And it rewards most generously those who find new puzzles to which to apply the laws and concepts. This progressive expansion of the domain of economics is often decried by some social scientists as economic imperialism.

Keywords: economics; behavioral science; proprietary laws; social scientists; economic imperialism

Article.  6303 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science ; Epistemology

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