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What’s Wrong with Contemporary Economics?

Paul P. Streeten
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Paul P. Streeten: World Development, and Department of Economics, Boston University, USA.

The Pakistan Development Review, 2000, vol. 39, issue 3, 191-211

Abstract: It is argued that in educating economists we should sacrifice some of the more technical aspects of economics (which can be learned later), in favour of the compulsory inclusion of (a) philosophy, (b) political science and (c) economic history. Three reasons for interdisciplinary studies are given. In the discussion of the place of mathematics in economics fuzziness enters when the symbols a, b, c are identified with individuals, firms, or farms. The identification of the precise symbol with the often ambiguous and fuzzy reality, invites lack of precision and blurs the concepts. If the social sciences, including economics, are regarded as a “soft” technology compared with the “hard” technology of the natural sciences, development studies have been regarded as the soft underbelly of “economic science”. In development economics the important question is: what are the springs of development? We must confess that we cannot answer this question, that we do not know what causes successful development.

Date: 2000
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