From Economist’s View (In reference to Schiller’s argument (in an exceptional recent paper) that economists should be more interdisciplinary.)
Is Adam Smith Partly an Economist, or Wholly a Moral Philosopher?, by Brad DeLong: Tiago at History of Economics Playground reacted very negatively to an AEA Annual Meeting presentation by Robert Shiller and Virginia Shiller:
This is a question that posits a false dichotomy.
The correct question is either:
a) “Is adam smith … an econometrician, or a moral philosopher?” He is a moral philosopher.
b) “Is adam smith … an economist or an econometrician?” He is an economist.
c) “Is an econometrician an economist?” The answer is “No.” An econometrician is a statistician that works on economic data.
Why? Economics is a branch of moral philosophy, because the all branches of economics SOLVE for a political end – an end, and an input, without which the profession cannot exist as a discipline. (Yes, that’s right.) Therefore one cannot be an economist unless one is a moral philosopher, unless economics is a branch of statistics, in which case, there are no economic facts because there are no facts without theories. A fact is impossible to define without a theory in which to analyze it.
Because being an economist in academia has lost it’s philosophical content, it is possible for Brad to ask this silly question. And if more economists spent more time on philosophy before interpreting statistics, they would understand the erroneous and somewhat ridiculous claims made by the profession are not grounded in demonstrable scientific reality.
And they are not grounded in demonstrable scientific reality because economics is currently explanatory, but not predictive.