Reconstruction of Economics

Reconstruction of Economics

Reconstruction of Economics

Reconstruction of Economics

Excerpt

The title of this volume, which also is the title of the last essay in it, may give readers the mistaken impression that the "reconstruction of economics" is accomplished herein, or that such was the objective. A more appropriate title might have been something like this: "What, in principle, is wrong with economics as it is taught and practised today; what should be done about the situation; how might men be trained to do the job; and, what aspects of the task should have their first attention?"

The first essay, "What Is Economic Knowledge," points out that economics as a science is still in swaddling clothes. By far the most of the material found today in economics textbooks is not "knowledge" in the modern scientific sense. Economics is where medicine was 150 years ago; it is in the twilight zone that chemistry passed through before the alchemists were finally discredited by the accumulating scientific findings of the modern age. Obviously, economics will not mature as a science until much that today passes for economic knowledge has similarly been superseded.

The next four essays are samples of the demolition job that must be done. That they are samples should be emphasized. Presumably, better and more complete work of this nature will be done in the years ahead by others more competent than I. Reconstruction necessarily includes tearing down the old in order that the new and better may replace it. This aspect of the task will not be done all at once, nor will it be done before the new structure of economic science is begun; indeed, that is impossible, because the new structure already is well begun. However, as the new edifice is built, the old will have to go, and the workers who will demolish the old are as necessary as those who will construct the new.

At last, the philosophers are beginning to do their part of the demolition job. Philosophy has always claimed as peculiarly its own the basic epistemological problem, What is knowledge? As the essays of Drs. Brodbeck and Rudner show, the philosophers are finally beginning to assist the social scientists who wish to see their subjects join the more firmly established sciences as useful portions of the accumulating knowledge of mankind.

The sixth essay offers tentative thoughts on the application of modern scientific method to economic problems. In this instance, also, I assume that better and more complete expositions on this . . .

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