Rethinking Economics

Thomas Helgerman


Over the last five years, the field of economics has undergone a reconsideration of its role in society. With the exception of a select few (Rajan, 2005), most economists were blindsided by the housing crash in 2007 and subsequent financial meltdown. This has prompted both a rethinking of econoimc thought on the institutional and legislative curriculum, and the undergraduate economics curriculum, which has been led by Wendy Carlin at University College London and Diane Coyle of Enlightenment Economics. Additionally, students have begun to take important roles in the debate. In April, the student-run Post-Crash Economics Society (PCES) at the University of Manchester published a report titled Economics, Education and Unlearning, which provided a critique of economics education in the UK and at Manchester in particular. However, as the report points out, “the problems ... are certainly not limited to Manchester and are in fact international in scale”. While the report has its commendable strides, it falls short on two crucial aspects: the suggestion that economics cannot be a scientific discipline and the driving recommendation of the report for a move towards “pluralism” in the discipline. This essay will focus on these two issues and argue that they are fundamentally misguided. 

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