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Is Economics Neutral Between Ends:


In economics the term ends means the goals which a man wishes to achieve in the economic aspects of his life. The means are the sources which are used to achieve the ends. For example, the ends or goals of the people are to achieve a rising standard of living, to protect themselves through social security schemes when they are out of job etc. The question whether economics is concerned with means or ends or with both has remained under debate. We, briefly, discuss the views of the economists in this regard.


Views of Classical Economists:


There is a difference of opinion among economists regarding the neutrality of Economics. The controversial point is whether Economics is concerned with the means or with the ends or with both. The classical economists are of the views that:


"Economics is purely a science".


According to them, the main function of an economist is to study the causes and effects of an economic phenomenon. They are also of the opinion that Economics is concerned with means and the study of ends lies outside its scope.


For example, Cairnes considered that:


“Political Economy stood neutral as regards ends, as mechanics stand neutral between rival schemes of railway construction”.


Senior, speaking on the nature of the economic conclusions says:


“Whatever be their generality and their truth, they do not authorize man in adding a single syllable of advice”.


Thus we find that according to classical economists Economics is not concerned at all with the value judgments or ends. The ends may be moral or immoral social or anti-social, Wise or foolish, good or bad, the economist has no direct concern with them. For example, if the government cuts taxes, imports will rise. The policy of increasing government expenditure will reduce unemployment and raise inflation etc., are positive statements. These are positive statements and can be checked against the evidence and proved correct or incorrect. The economists as scientists cannot pass value judgments and say that taxes should be reduced to increase imports.


Neo-classical View:


The above mentioned traditional of describing Economics as neutral science was opposed by Neo-classical economists. They introduced the concept of “welfare” in the study of Economics. According to them, Economics is a social science and has also a normative aspect. It studies manes activities in relation to wealth which he tries to produce in order to promote his welfare.


Lionel Robbins’s View:


Lionel Robbins has upheld the view of the classical economists. He is not in favor of including welfare considerations in the study of Economics as welfare is purely subjective in character and cannot to exactly measure. Moreover, human welfare does not simply depend upon material goods, also depends upon services as well. There are certain activities which are not conductive to human welfare such as manufacture and sale of wine but they are regarded economic activities because the economist cannot arrogate to himself the role of a moralist.


Robbins is, therefore, of the view that the interpretation subjective things admitted to scientific discussions. He believes that Economics is concerned merely with the utilization of scarce means far the satisfaction of multiple ends. As our ends are unlimited and the means to satisfy them are limited, therefore a problem of choice arises for selecting the uses to which the scarce resources can be effectively applied.


According to him, the duty of the economist is to study the use of the means for the realization of particular ends. As regard the ends, he has nothing to do with them. They may be noble or ignoble. Economics entirely neutral between them J.M. Keynes has also supported Robbins’s view. He says:


“The theory of Economics does not furnish a body of settled conclusions immediately applicable to policy. It is a method other than doctrine, apparatus of mind and technique of thinking which helps its possessor to draw correct conclusion”.


In short, according to Keynes also, Economics is a pure science.

Though many economists right from Classical School to J.M. Keynes have described economics a neutral science but the fact is that none of them have been able to adopt the neutral attitude of mere scientist. Robbing, chief exponent of the view could not retrain attacking the Government planning. He advised the Government to adopt laissez-faire policy. J.M. Keynes who is often charged as a depression economist, has birds suggested many measures to counteract cyclical fluctuations.

It is now increasingly recognized among economists that economics is not merely a pure simple science but has an applied aspect too. Friedman has also emphasized the fact that not concerned with the economic problems in the abstract. It studies how a particular society its economic problems.




We may, therefore, conclude that Economic deal with means as well as with ends If we exclude ends from the study of Economics, then there will be no use of studying “Economic”.


For example, if a low paid person worried about the fast increasing prices of commodities comes to an economist to know its causes and he (economist) being The follower of Robbins simply discusses the causes of inflation in the country and refuses to discuss with him its consequences and suggesting remedies; naturally the poor man will not be satisfied and he will be too much disgusted with the subject of Economics. He will rather hate it. Frazer is right when he says that “an economist who is only an economist is a poor pretty fish”. The modern economists being more realistic also include the normative aspect in the study of Economics.

Relevant Articles:

» Economics as a Science of Wealth or Definition of Economics By Adam Smith
» Economics as a Science of Material Welfare or Definition of Economics By Alfred Marshall
» Economics as a Science of Scarcity and Choice or Definition of Economics By Robbins
» Economics as a Science of Growth and Efficiency or Definition of Economics By Modern Economists
» Is Economics Neutral Between Ends
» Economics Problems
» Scope of Economics
» Nature of Economic Laws
» Methods of Economic Analysis
» Economic Analysis and Economic Policy
» Micro and Macro Analysis
» Importance of the Study of Economics


Principles and Theories of Micro Economics
Definition and Explanation of Economics
Theory of Consumer Behavior
Indifference Curve Analysis of Consumer's Equilibrium
Theory of Demand
Theory of Supply
Elasticity of Demand
Elasticity of Supply
Equilibrium of Demand and Supply
Economic Resources
Scale of Production
Laws of Returns
Production Function
Cost Analysis
Various Revenue Concepts
Price and output Determination Under Perfect Competition
Price and Output Determination Under Monopoly
Price and Output Determination Under Monopolistic/Imperfect Competition
Theory of Factor Pricing OR Theory of Distribution
Principles and Theories of Macro Economics
National Income and Its Measurement
Principles of Public Finance
Public Revenue and Taxation
National Debt and Income Determination
Fiscal Policy
Determinants of the Level of National Income and Employment
Determination of National Income
Theories of Employment
Theory of International Trade
Balance of Payments
Commercial Policy
Development and Planning Economics
Introduction to Development Economics
Features of Developing Countries
Economic Development and Economic Growth
Theories of Under Development
Theories of Economic Growth
Agriculture and Economic Development
Monetary Economics and Public Finance

History of Money

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