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Economics is a Positive science or Normative science

Here, we discuss whether economics is a positive science or normative science in detailed.

Economics is a Positive science or Normative science
Let us understand the meaning of Positive science and Normative science.
Positive science:
"A positive science may be defined as a body of systematised knowledge concerning 'what is'.
Normative science:
Normative science as a body of systematised knowledge relating to criteria of 'what ought to be,' and concerned with the ideal as distinguished from the actual."
Now we will discuss it one by one as follows-
  1. Economics as a Positive Science: According to Prof. Robbins economics is positive science which studies things as they are and explains their causes and effects. According to him, a true science seeks truth for its own sake and studies 'what is' not 'what ought to be'. The business of an economist is to analyse, explain and explore economic facts, he has not to pass any judgement or any matter. According to him, Economics is concerned only with scarce means, the study of ends lies outside its scope. The ends may be noble or ignoble, moral or immoral, good or bad, but since economics is a science it is concerned with the number of ends and their degrees or relative intensity. It has no connection whatsoever with the nature of ends. According to him, economics is entirely neutral between ends.' The economist is not concerned with ends as such.' He only concerned with the way in which the attainment of ends is limited by scarce means. His role is that of an expert who can predict correctly the consequences that are likely to follow, say, by adopting such a policy. His main function is to explore and explain and not to advocate and condemn.' He can state the implications of any change in our choice regarding the disposal of scarce means, but he cannot judge the desirability of these actions or policies. Prof. Robbins, Friedman considers economics as a positive science. According to them, the ultimate goal of a positive science is the development of a 'theory' or 'hypothesis' that yields valid and meaningful predictions about the phenomena not yet observed.'
  2. Economics as a Normative Science: Most of the modern economists, do not accept and agree with Prof. Robbins. According to them economics cannot and should not remain neutral between ends. The study of economics aims at not only to know the truth for its own sake, but also to provide a technique for the solution of various economic problems facing the society. According to modern writers, it is not only a 'light-bearing' science but a 'fruit-bearing' science. The justification of any social science is its ability to contribute to the solution of practical problems. According to them, after analysing the various aspects of an economic problem, an economist must suggest remedies for its solution. It is neither desirable not possible to separate economics from its normative aspect. It has to study not only 'what is' but also 'what ought to be.' Economics cannot be divested, as Robbins does, of ethical considerations. It is only when the study of economics is studied both from its positive and normative aspect that it can help in the solution of various economic problems facing the society. It is an illusion to imagine that economics is neutral between ends.
Economics is a Positive science or Normative science
What is Positive Science?
What is Normative Science?
Economics as a Positive Science
Economics as a Normative Science
Nature of Economics - Economics is a Positive science or Normative science.
Kinnari
Tech writer at NewsandStory
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