The London Libertarian

The London Libertarian

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economic(s) imperialism (economics)

EconomicsPosted by Jan Lester Thu, April 03, 2014 11:24:02

economic(s) imperialism (economics) *Economics has been one of the most explanatorily powerful of the *social sciences. Those on the so-called *left- and right-wing (not to mention out-and-out *authoritarians) who would deny this are, given the generally pro-*market conclusions of economics, probably revealing their own anti-*liberal bias. This success might prompt some to conjecture that the various assumptions of economics are more or less *true and, therefore, useful for understanding the social world generally. Given the *aprioristic or near tautological nature of the assumption of *economic rationality, and the apparent robustness of the general *economics methodology, this is hardly surprising. The other social sciences have often been floundering, even foundering, without comparably useful and true theory-guiding assumptions.

Thus the *Austrian view of giving economic analyses of all human activities, which was also a feature of Philip Wicksteed (1844-1927) and other *marginalists, has been increasingly popular in recent decades, not least with Gary Becker (1930- ) and the Chicago school generally. Though modern economics began by focusing on the topic of trade, there is no inherent reason to restrict its methods to this. Economics’ general methodology has now been enlighteningly applied in many other areas of social science (and even beyond: see *economics), not the least being *sociology and psychology (in the form of behavioral economics). This process has been resisted by some people as a form of *intellectual imperialism, in a metaphorical and hyperbolical sense. But problems do not respect *academe’s subject boundaries. No one is obliged to use economics, but its success will mean that those who decline to do so are likely increasingly to find that their own research will not stand up beside it (unless *capture can restrict free intellectual *competition).

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