Engineers and Planners

Edited by Bruce Caldwell

in Studies on the Abuse and Decline of Reason

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780226321097
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226321127 | DOI:
Engineers and Planners

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  • History of Economic Thought


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The present popularity of “economic planning” is directly traceable to the prevalence of the scientistic ideas. As in this field the scientistic ideals manifest themselves in the particular forms that they take in the hands of the applied scientist and especially the engineer, it will be convenient to combine the discussion of this influence with some examination of the characteristic ideals of the engineers. This chapter describes how the influence on current views about problems of social organization of this technological approach, or the engineering point of view, is much greater than is generally realized. Most of the schemes for a complete remodelling of society, from the earlier utopias to modern socialism, bear indeed the distinct mark of this influence. In recent years, this desire to apply engineering technique to the solution of social problems has become very explicit; “political engineering” and “social engineering” have become fashionable catchwords that are quite as characteristic of the outlook of the present generation as its predilection for “conscious” control. These phrases suggest a confusion about the fundamental differences between the task of the engineer and that of social organizations on a larger scale, which make it desirable to consider their character somewhat more fully.

Keywords: economic planning; scientistic ideas; remodeling; engineering technique; social engineering; conscious control; social formation; objectivism; scientistic approach; social science

Chapter.  6193 words. 

Subjects: History of Economic Thought

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