Positive Economics is a view of the economy through the lens of the neutral scientist. Opinion is discouraged by deferring to practical consideration of incentives, inputs, and results. Contrast with Normative Economics and The Art of Economics

Milton Friedman[]

In his essay, The Methodology of Positive Economics (1953), The idea of a "science of economics" is defended. Economics, fighting to create its own niche in the more rigourous of the sciences, used this essay as motivation, or marching orders, for the use of economics as an informative tool for policy. In the essay, Friedman compares economics to physics, arguably the most sophisticated of the natural sciences. Speaking about the laws of gravity, and the confounding circumstances which make, for example, a feather fall more slowly than a lead ball; Friedman creates an analogy about the aims of his suggested paradigm.

Socratic Problem[]

Positive Economics has a hard time being taken without the application of these finding to normative purposes. The teaching of positive economics is fine as a pursuit of knowledge, but what is the purpose if it is not applied. Somewhat contemporary to the selection of Milton Fiedman to recieve the Swedish Bank Prize in honor of Alfred Nobel, there was military takeover of Chile. Dr. Friedman had instructed a few of the Chilean economoists at Chicago. When he went down and advised the new government about stabalization of the new reginme, it was a popular critique to claim that he was making it easier on the military dictator. While history seems to have born out the ends justifying the means (Chile is more stable than other countries in South America) there is a problem of what people do with the insight from these supposidly neutral insights inton human nature.

Socrates was murdered by the state, following charges including corrupting the youth of Athens. He taught students and then his students were involved in a revolt against Athens. How much does the teacher share in the blame of the student's actions? Friedman recieved what is popularly known as the "Nobel Prize in Economics," Socrates drank Hemlock. Are the times changing, or are the two problems fundamentally different?


  • Dr. Eric Schlisser, Department of Philosophy, Syracuse University - "Milton Friedman, Positive Economics, and the Chicago Boys," forthcomming