Is economics a social science? Economics is the study of the allocation, distribution, and consumption of wealth in human society. It involves the relationship that comes out from the production and consumption of goods to the placement of wealth due to the creation and utilization of these goods or services provided.
Science is a discipline that puts forward hypotheses and going ahead to perform controlled experiments to establish whether the hypotheses put forward are right or wrong.
Considering these two simple explanations of what economics and science are, would you say that economics is a science? According to philosopher Jorge Morales, science can be defined in the following ways;
Science is a branch of the study of facts and knowledge that are systematically arranged showing the operation of general laws or systematic understanding of physical materials that is gained through observation and repeated experimentation.
Any branch of the natural or physical sciences
The systematized knowledge of general phenomena The knowledge of facts and principles gained by systematic study and evaluation
The skill that reflects the precise application of facts and principles
Let us carefully take economics through the five definitions provided to determine whether economics qualifies as a science.
Economics deals with the evaluation of previously collected data to predict or foresee outcomes. It does not show the operation of general laws, so Jorge’s first definition disqualifies economics as science.
The second definition qualifies economics as science as economists are used to predicting the behavior of materials in the manufacturing industry through the analysis of data collected from the results of repeated experimentation. The third definition disqualifies economics as science yet again.
The fourth, fifth and sixth definitions are generalized and easily fits economics as a science.
With the antagonistic nature of the discipline whereby it cannot be classified as a mathematical, physical or natural science but then behaves like science by using and providing models that are used in scientific research, what then do we called it?
Economics would have easily fit as a mathematical science but the major problem is that the results obtained by economic and statistical models cannot be reproduced identically as the variables that determine the models for calculation always change with variations of societal matters. Science requires that the results of an experiment be reproducible. This is impossible for economics because economics variables depend on human behavior, and it cannot be the same. It changes from person to person and from time to time.
Because economics is as close to science as it can be but cannot be thoroughly be considered a science, then subjective viewpoints decided to consider economics a social science.
Economics is a social science because human behavior cannot be predicted in totality. This means that economic models have to be changed from time to time, according to the change in the behavior of the people and the industry into consideration. Over-dependence on economic models that have been around for some time would bring about skewed results. Scholars argue that the recent financial crisis was due to the over-dependence on economic models whose variable relationships has changed due to change of behavior in people.
Economics bases its roots within the social activity in nature. It also applies mathematical and experimental models to predict outcomes. The results from these predictions are then again used to develop policies and laws that are used to serve people and nations socially. This utilitarian nature of the economics discipline is what leads to it being considered a social science.
In practice, there are instances where economists are hired in science and technology. Take an example of the economists that are used in material science or manufacturing industries to optimize the production value of items add materials. In this instant, the material composition of matter does not change, and therefore, the results of their statistical models are not skewed by human behavior. Can we consider this kind of application of economics to be science? Yes.
Therefore, depending on the application, economics is both a science and social science. Although most of the applications of economics will fall into social science, a few of them could be considered actual sciences.
It is, however, better to categorize it generally as a social science because of how the applications of economics in actual science disciplines might be far-fetched. All branches of macroeconomics would fall into social sciences, and just a few of the categories of microeconomics could be considered to be actual mathematical sciences.
The discussion of whether economics should be considered a science or not has sparked controversy because it is not clear-cut as the way physics, chemistry or math is. The inability to replicate experimental results of statistical and economical methods is the reason why it cannot be categorized with actual sciences. The use of scientific and mathematical methods in economics and the use of economic models to solve scientific problems and make technological advances classify it as a science. It is a science that is determined by human behavior and activity, uses mathematical and statistical models to arrive at solutions that come back to solve societal problems.
More opinions of whether or not to consider economics a social science may be found on economics homework answers.