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Economics as practical wisdom.

Spicker, Paul


Paul Spicker


The discipline of economics has been represented as deductive and theoretical, deductive and empirical, and inductive and empirical. All of these approaches have been subject to withering criticism in other social sciences: their weaknesses are theoretical, evidential and methodological. Part of the problem rests in the interpretative or prescriptive character of much that is written in economics, but the core rests in the attempt to generalise about economic processes beyond the context where they occur. The situation where an economic insight is applied cannot be bracketed off, or set aside, from its context and the influence of other factors; the process of generalisation does not of itself provide useful prescriptions for policy. The principles of phronesis are based in experiential knowledge and practice. Economics has to adapt to complexity and ethical considerations, relying on judgement in particular contexts rather than generalisation. It is a phronetic activity.


SPICKER, P. 2016. Economics as practical wisdom. Real-world economics review [online], 75, pages 113-125. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 27, 2016
Online Publication Date Jun 27, 2016
Publication Date Jun 27, 2016
Deposit Date Mar 5, 2018
Publicly Available Date Mar 5, 2018
Journal Real-world economics review
Print ISSN 1755-9472
Publisher World Economics Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 75
Pages 113-125
Keywords Economics; Judgement; Identifying patterns; Anticipating problems
Public URL
Publisher URL


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