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Where Economics Went Wrong$
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David Colander and Craig Freedman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691179209

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691179209.001.0001

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Sweet Science

Sweet Science

Engineering a New Approach to Economic Policy

(p.1) 1 Sweet Science
Where Economics Went Wrong

David Colander

Craig Freedman

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the methodological tradition that Classical Liberal economists embraced, which interpreted the science of economics narrowly and created a firewall between scientific pursuits and policy endeavors. This tradition is best found in the policy methodology of Classical Liberals such as John Stuart Mill and his followers. That methodology recognized the messiness of policy compared to the elegance of the theory underlying science. To deal with that messiness, the policy methodology needed a branch of economics that was free of scientific certainty. One way to handle that problem would be to accept that no part of economics was a science. The second way was to divide economics into different branches: a scientific branch concerned with agreed-upon empirical facts and logical implications of assumptions, in which normative values played as minimal a role as possible; and a policy branch in which values were seen as essential elements of the analysis.

Keywords:   Classical Liberals, liberal economists, economics, John Stuart Mill, policy, science, policy methodology

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