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Is Economics a Science? or Art? Peer group pursue Engineering


Huh, so you wanted to pursue economics, then why did you opt for science? I, being from science background, am accustomed to being bombarded with questions regarding my choice of pursuing economics. With majority of my peer group pursuing engineering, medicine and other “Scientifically conventional” courses, here I am, in an arts and commerce college, studying the behavior of a rational consumer. (This topic continues to haunt me till now).

What is it about?

However after studying economics, I realized that economics is not just another arts major. It is a highly practical and rigorous subject that demands analytical problem solving skills. Mathematics constitutes a major chunk of the curriculum  and  I never felt left out for not having a strong finance or commerce background.  Rather a science background has helped me analyze problems with a flexible perspective contrary to blindly following a rigid preconceived notion. There’s practically no difference between calculating the half life of a bacteria and measuring the growth rate of population (Barring the exponents in the data). Science instills a unique skill set within a person that beautifully translates into a subject like economics.

Talking about amalgamation of economics with science; Econometrics is that branch of economics which uses statistics and mathematical theories to test hypothesis and forecast trends. Most drug researches and developments are based on costs and benefits which are one of the major principles of economics. Continuous advancement in data processing and computer programming allows economists to model increasingly complex situations. And the list goes on.

Science or Art?

These arguments underpin the statement, “Economics is a Science as well as an art.” However, does economics really qualify as a science? Lack of testable hypothesis, unreliable assumptions and absence of empirical laws question the integrity of science, or what we call a paradox. Hence Scottish writer, essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle describes the discipline of economics as a dismal science. Because of its unreliability in comparison to conventional science subjects such as physics, biology etc. For scientists to prove their theory, they can repeatedly test and verify their hypothesis in labs. However,economists have to request a higher authority like government or central bank to implement a specific change in the economy. Only then can they judge the feasibility of their theory.

Human nature is complex and unpredictable and quantifying it with the help of universal laws is next to impossible. Hence, there is a usage of insane number of assumptions in economics. The assumptions like consumers are rational and the market is in equilibrium do not hold water in real world. Inspite of these shortcomings commerce has a fair combination of qualitative and quantitative elements. This makes it a perfect blend of sciences and social sciences. The question whether commerce qualifies as a science will always remain a debatable question. But the charisma of economics is such that any person with an interpretative and logical mind can understand the nitty gritty of this subject; without any prior knowledge of economics, making it an affable subject for a Science student.

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