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The Economy as a Science

By Bernard

The difficulties with this science of the economy begins with its name in itself.

In the English world, since Samuelson, most of the economists and the non economists are using the word "Economics" to talk about this science.  Seldom they use the words "Political Economy" or "Economic Education".

For sure, we could say "Economic Science" as we also say "Political Science" and "Social Sciences", but it looks like to repeat ourself.  If the economy is a science, what is the need of using the word "Science" to specify it?  So we may use the same word to show the science and the object of that science, as much as the art of using it in our daily actions.

As for the word economist, it was first used by the opponents of the Physiocrats, who were the first people in the History to think in an orderly maner about this subjet;  this happen in France in the middle of the XXVIII century.  The most illustrated figure among the Physiocrats was François Quesnay.  Its opponents called him an "Economist" as an insult, like some people are still doing today, mostly from the ecology fans.

Adam Smith wrote this about them:

"Ils formaient, il y a quelques années (avant 1776!) une secte assez considérable, distinguée en France, dans le république des lettres, sous le nom d'économistes.  Les écrivains de cette secte, dans leurs ouvrages, qui sont très nombreux et qui traitent, non seulement de ce qu'on nomme proprement l'économie politique, ou de la nature et des causes de la richesse des nations, mais encore de toute autre branche du gouvernement civil, suivent tous dans le fond et sans aucune variation sensible, la doctrine de M. Quesnay." (Tome II, pages 299-300, livre IV)  This my translation, but I'm looking for the English original words!  

We will see now these topics about the science of the economy:

  1. The Definition<
  2. Is Economy a Science?<
    1. The Scientific Certainty
    2. About the Economists
    3. The Economic Analysis
  3. As a Human Science<
  4. As a Social Science<
  5. In the Kingdom of Ideas<
  6. The Diagram of the Sciences<

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