High Priests and Lowly Philosophers: The Battle for the Soul of Economics

19 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2006 Last revised: 25 Oct 2010

Peter J. Boettke

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Christopher J. Coyne

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Peter T. Leeson

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

We contend that the transformation of economics from a discipline that studies the economy to one that is entrusted with its control has threatened the very soul of economics. The false pretense of scientific management led economists to promise to accomplish tasks that they cannot legitimately achieve. We provide three cases where the scientistic pretensions of economists got the better of them in the 20th century: Keynesian demand management, the practice of cost/benefit analysis by regulators and lawyers, and the debate over market socialism. If our argument is right, the role of the economist should move from high priest back to lowly philosopher.

Keywords: Economic Philosophy, Economic History, What should economists do?

JEL Classification: B20, B53, N01

Suggested Citation

Boettke, Peter J. and Coyne, Christopher J. and Leeson, Peter T., High Priests and Lowly Philosophers: The Battle for the Soul of Economics (2006). Case Western Reserve Law Review, Vol. 56, No. 3, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=881771

Peter J. Boettke (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-1149 (Phone)
703-993-1133 (Fax)

Christopher J. Coyne

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Peter T. Leeson

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.peterleeson.com

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