Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Is economics a science? #2

Continuing my way through Brad DeLong’s “highlights” post, the next up is Krugman who comments on Ozimek that, yes, the profession rejected the Phillips curve because of empirical evidence, but they should also have rejected the real business cycle which is still accepted. Krugman concludes that

The point is that while economics certainly did have some of the characteristics of a science three decades ago, you can make a good case that significant parts of the field have lost those characteristics since then.

This seems weak to me, at least until Krugman provides the “good case” he says can be made. Otherwise, it sounds a bit like saying “economists in general seemed to be more in agreement with me 30 years ago, so we were more scientific back then.” My impression is that the level of empirical rigor and discourse in at least parts of economics is higher than before. And, though I think parts of" “behavioral economics” is a bit too much like “let’s put some behavioral lipstick on the rational choice pig,” it has at least made more economists agree that there are alternative models to the "standard” model that can be just as deserving of interest.

Also, I’d be interested in knowing what these guys mean by “scientific”. Is it “not completely 100% closed off against all possibilities of empirical falsification”?

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