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The status of economics as a predictive science has been most prominently brought into question, historically, by three unpredicted yet extremely important economic events: the Great Depression of the 1930s, stagflation of the 1970s, and bursting of the mortgage bubble in 2008. The issue of prediction was also raised by economist Donald McCloskey who, in 1988, asked his fellow economists, “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?” Some critics find predictive failures of economists unsurprising, given the frequent reliance of the latter on assumptions known to be false (e.g., that economic agents are always selfish, have perfect information, and never make mistakes) and on models that unavoidably ignore potentially relevant factors. Perhaps, then, economics is not primarily a predictive science, but instead a descriptive, historical, and/or mathematical one. In this course, relying on works by economists and philosophers, we examine the status of economics as an academic discipline, focusing on its assumptions, methods, and results.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
six 6- to 8-page essays, six 2- to 3-page response papers, participation in discussions
Philosophy majors and potential majors, then Economics majors and potential majors
Six 6- to 8-page essays. Students will receive from the instructor timely comments on their writing skills, with suggestions for improvement.
PHIL Contemporary Value Theory Courses