Two Conceptions of Economics

Journal of Applied Economics, Vol XIV, No. 2 (November 2011), 181-197

Posted: 22 May 2012

Date Written: November 1, 2011


As Ronald Coase points out, there are two kinds of conceptions of economics: first, the conception that emphasizes the study of specific kinds of human activities; and, second, the conception that makes economics the study of a specific approach to all human choices. The paper first shortly reviews the two conceptions. Then, it links them to specific conceptions about rationality. An analysis of the terms involved in the discussion shows which conception of economics corresponds most to its ordinary language meaning. The paper then analyzes and develops Coaseā€™s argument for the first and against the second conception, explores the limits of an integration of the two views and assigns them specific roles.

Keywords: definition of economics, relation with other social sciences

JEL Classification: A11, B00, B40

Suggested Citation

Crespo, Ricardo F., Two Conceptions of Economics (November 1, 2011). Journal of Applied Economics, Vol XIV, No. 2 (November 2011), 181-197 , Available at SSRN:

Ricardo F. Crespo (Contact Author)

Universidad Austral and CONICET ( email )

Buenos Aires
54-2322-481049 (Phone)
54-2322-481050 (Fax)

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