Social Economics: Premises, Findings and Policies

By Edward J.O'Boyle | Go to book overview

3

PHILOSOPHICAL FOUNDATIONS OF SOCIAL ECONOMICS

Marx, Schumpeter, and Keynes
John E. ElliottThe "philosophical foundations of social economics" has been one of William R. Waters's continuing, lifelong, scholarly interests. This chapter seeks to identify and examine as systematically as possible within the confines of brevity the leading implications for social economics of certain broad foundations or basic ideas of a philosophical nature.By "philosophical foundations," we usually mean those fundamental, often presupposed or unexamined, ideas which underlie one or more of the various "sciences." The sciences presumed here are social, humanistic, and historical, that is, sciences which pertain to what Thorstein Veblen called the evolution of the "life-process" of human beings in social context and interaction over historical time.It is common to divide philosophical foundations into views concerning:
1 History (philosophy of history).
2 The ultimate nature of nature and human nature (metaphysics).
3 Rules concerning the validation of ideas, that is, the (un)certainty of our knowledge (epistemology).
4 The ethical principles guiding or emanating from our studies (moral philosophy).
5 The "beauty" of the order or form which guides the construction and communication of our discourse (aesthetics).

Succeeding sections will consider, in turn, each of these topics.


ON HISTORY AND HISTORICAL CHANGE

Joseph A. Schumpeter, in his monumental work on the history of economic ideas (Schumpeter 1954) designates economic history (together with economic theory, economic statistics, and economic sociology) as one of the four components of economic analysis. Indeed he goes so far as to say

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