1. Introduction to economics

1. Introduction to economics - 1 Introduction to Economics...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
1. Introduction to Economics DEFINITIONS OF ECONOMICS AND SOCIAL SCIENCE One modern definition of Economics is; The scientific study of the choices made by individuals and societies in regard to the alternative uses of scarce resources which are employed to satisfy wants. This suggests that there is a lack of things in the world, clean-water, food, houses, roads, hotels, cars and so on. Humans devise systems to share out these scarce resources between themselves. Economists are interested in describing these systems and finding the best methods. It might be argued that there is enough food, water, shelter, warmth and clothing to satisfy the world population. But, needs and wants are not the same thing and economists point out that even the richest people in the world still want more. Another definition is Economics is what Economists do. John Maynard Keynes described what he thought economists do in Essays in Biography in 1933. An economist, he wrote, must possess a rare combination of gifts. He must be mathematician, historian, statesman, philosopher-in some degree. He must understand symbols and speak in words. He must contemplate the particular in terms off the general, and touch abstract and concrete in the same flight of thought. He must study the present in light of the past for purposes of the future. No part of man's nature or his institutions must lie entirely outside his regard. He must be purposeful and disinterested in a simultaneous mood; as aloof and incorruptible as an artist, yet sometimes as near the earth as a politician. Here is another view. There appear to be three methods by which economic phenomena may be investigated, and each of them has its vigorous champions. The first consists mainly in deductive analysis. Proceeding from a few simple premises based upon general observation to broad generalizations. The second is the historical method, which seeks an understanding of existing institutions by tracing their evolutions from their origins in the past. The third is statistical induction, which endeavours, by the analysis of numerical data, to develop quantitative knowledge of economic phenomena. Luckily, the disputes which have been waged between the advocates of these different types of analysis do not have to be settled before economics can be defined, for the question of definition is one of subject matter rather, than of method. Anyway, it is now coming to be recognized that these methods are complementary rather than mutually exclusive. Raymond T Bye, The Scope of Economics, Journal of Political Economy, 1939
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
One problem with the definition of economics in italics at the start of this page is that it does not allow a discussion of ethics. By using the term scientific in the definition we exclude opinions as to how resources should be allocated. For some economists this is over restrictive and a further distinction between positive and normative economics is needed. Social science
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 02/12/2010 for the course ECON 201 taught by Professor Smith during the Spring '10 term at Whittier.

Page1 / 15

1. Introduction to economics - 1 Introduction to Economics...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online