To this day, economists have no clue of what their subject matter is. While the sciences have specialized, economists follow the Renaissance ideal of the Homo Universalis.#1 Accordingly, they dabble in psychology, sociology, political sciences, geopolitics, law, history, anthropology, social philosophy, philosophy, theology, pedagogic, biology/ evolution, climatology, and whatnot.
People become progressively aware that in all these disciplines economists have not contributed anything of scientific value: “While he [Todd Zywicki] overdid it a bit he argued with some good reason that most legal decisions in the US relying on claimed behavioral economics foundations, especially on matters involving credit and consumer finance issues, have been seriously flawed. They have either relied on misinterpretations or else mere assertions that have not been empirically demonstrated. He raised a point of more general interest in charging that there has been a problem of ‘citation cascades,’ where a string of decisions has been based on people citing other people in a cascade that eventually boils down to an initial claim that has no clear basis.”
This is not correct. Economics has a clear basis and it is given with the set of neo-Walrasian axioms: “HC1 There exist economic agents. HC2 Agents have preferences over outcomes. HC3 Agents independently optimize subject to constraints. HC4 Choices are made in interrelated markets. HC5 Agents have full relevant knowledge. HC6 Observable economic outcomes are coordinated, so they must be discussed with reference to equilibrium states.” (Weintraub)
Economists simply apply this set of behavioral assumptions or slight variants thereof or the subset of optimization-and-equilibrium to any question they come across. The tragicomedy is that this methodology has crushingly failed in their own field. Economists can to this day not tell how the price- and profit mechanism works or what profit is.#2, #3
The methodological blunder of economists and the ultimate reason why economics is one of the worst scientific failures of all times consists of defining economics as a social science.#4, #5
So, the definition of the subject matter has to be changed:
- Old (behavioral): Economics is the science that studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.
- New (systemic): Economics is the science that studies how the monetary economy works.
#1 Wikipedia, Polymath
#2 Economists’ three-layered scientific incompetence
#3 Mental messies and loose losers
#4 Economics is NOT a social science
#5 For details of the big picture see cross-references Not a Science of Behavior
Related 'Dear philosophers, economics is a systems science'.