Economic Ideas and Government Policy: Contributions to Contemporary Economic History

By Alec Cairncross | Go to book overview

18

ECONOMISTS AND ENGINEERS*

Margaret Gowing is one of the few economists of her generation who has shown a particular interest in engineering. Her study of the development of the atomic bomb is a commentary on events of the highest importance, in which technical, political and economic influences interacted in a way that economists should be particularly well equipped to explain, but rarely investigate. It is just such a mixture of influences that has come to dominate life in industrial countries; and it is increasingly futile to limit attention to any one of these influences to the exclusion of the others in explaining the past or providing for the future. Conversely, in the assessment of situations and projects and in framing recommendations for action, it is increasingly necessary for those who analyse economic, social and political factors to co-operate with those whose province is technology.

It cannot be said that there is at present much co-operation or mutual understanding between these two groups, of which the leading representatives are economists on the one side and engineers on the other. In my experience, economists commonly take little interest in engineering and engineers are apt to view with suspicion the activities of economists. It seems appropriate in a volume in honour of Margaret Gowing to ask whether this need be so and to review what unites and what divides economics and engineering as fields of study.

One thing both have in common is that they aim or should aim at a practical outcome. The engineer’s aim is to get something done, or done better, whether he is designing (or repairing) a machine or a structure of some kind. He takes over information of all kinds as to what is wanted and what is possible and uses it to build something that will work: not something abstract and logically consistent but something tangible and visible. The economist, in his own way, is also interested in getting things to work, or work better. But the things that concern him are not machines and physical structures but

* From Science, Politics and the Public Good, Essays in Honour of Margaret Gowing (ed. N. Rupke) 1988. I am indebted to Dr J.J.O’Connor and Dr A.M. Cairncross for helpful suggestions in the preparation of this essay.

-235-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Economic Ideas and Government Policy: Contributions to Contemporary Economic History
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 284

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.