Science, Economics, 'Vision'
Social Research, Vol. 71, No. 2, pp. 223-234, 2004
13 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2007 Last revised: 30 Jul 2008
The focus here is Robert L. Heilbroner's critique, in the last chapter of the 7th edition of The Worldly Philosophers, of the idea that economics is, or should be, scientific. Heilbroner's conception of economics as essentially tied to capitalism is too narrow, and at odds with his own commentary on the rise of pauperism after the English common-land enclosures; and his critique of contemporary economics-as-social science is overdrawn. Nevertheless, there is indeed an important role for the "visionary" economics for which Heilbroner hankers: assessing the benefits and drawbacks of different ways of ordering the production and distribution of goods and services.
Keywords: science, social science, economics, capitalism, Robert L. Heilbroner
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