Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 6 No. 3 (Summer 1992)


Quick Tools:

Print Article Summary
Export Citation
Sign up for Email Alerts Follow us on Twitter


JEP - All Issues

Retrospectives: The Lost Art of Economics

Article Citation

Colander, David. 1992. "Retrospectives: The Lost Art of Economics." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 6(3): 191-198.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.6.3.191


Economists generally divide economics into two distinct categories—positive and normative—but how applied economics fits within these categories is unclear. This paper argues that applied economics belongs in neither normative nor positive economics; instead it belongs in a third category—the art of economics. Currently, many economists are trying to use a methodology appropriate for positive economics to guide their applied work, work that properly belongs in the art of economics. This three-part distinction is not mine, but dates back to a classic book, The Scope and Method of Political Economy (1891) by John Neville Keynes. In his book, Keynes argued that economists' failure to distinguish the art of economics as a separate branch from positive and normative economics would lead to serious problems. One hundred years later, he has turned out to be clairvoyant.

Article Full-Text Access

Full-text Article (Complimentary)


Colander, David (Middlebury College)

JEL Classifications

B41: Economic Methodology


View Comments on This Article (0) | Login to post a comment

Journal of Economic Perspectives

Quick Tools:

Sign up for Email Alerts

Follow us on Twitter

Subscription Information
(Institutional Administrator Access)


JEP - All Issues

Virtual Field Journals

AEA Member Login:

AEAweb | AEA Journals | Contact Us