2021 (18), №3

The Status of Economic Theory as a Scientific and Educational Discipline



For citation: 

Dyatel, E. P. (2021). The Status of Economic Theory as a Scientific and Educational Discipline. Zhurnal Еkonomicheskoj Тeorii [Russian Journal of Economic Theory], 18(3), 374-388. https://doi.org/10.31063/2073-6517/2021.18-3.4.


The article examines the place of economic theory in the structure of scientific knowledge and its role in creating human capital. The comparative analysis focuses on the way knowledge is organized in natural (physics) and social (economics) disciplines. It is suggested that theoretical economics lies at the core of economic science, and there is also a protective belt of «auxiliary hypotheses» (I. Lakatos) comprising a range of economic theories (from political economy to neo-institutional economics) appears. Their categorical foundation coincides with objective knowledge (in the terminology of K. Popper), which should include basic categories, logical and mathematical methods, micro-economic bases of analysis, etc.
Microeconomics is aimed at building mathematical models that reflect the rational behavior of economic agents. Its in-depth study is the prerogative of «textbooks for scientists» (in the classification of B. Bolzano). Within the higher education system, ‘microeconomic theory’ is studied at the level of postgraduate studies, which means that the disciplines that form the core of the economic science should be studied more intensively at the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels.
In Master’s programs, what comes to the fore is the ‘textbooks for business people’ or the economy of industrial markets. The economy of industrial markets and other similar disciplines based on the categorical foundation of microeconomics offer practically oriented training (case studies and know-how).
The content of economic theories includes a worldview component, which largely coincides with implicit (personal) knowledge (in the interpretation of M. Polanyi). This is where originates the critical attitude towards previous theories and progressive trends in the development of economic science. The factor that contributes to the formation of the ‘economic way of thinking’ (textbooks addressed to wider public) in the senior classes of specialized schools or at the level of Bachelor’s programs.

Evgeny P. Dyatel — Doctor of Economics, Professor, Leading Researcher at the Center for Economic Theory, Institute of Economics of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences; https://orcid.org/0000–0002–4383–8060 (29, Moskovskaya St., Ekaterinburg, 620014, Russian Federation, 29; e-mail: dyatel1942@mail.ru).