Przyczynowość i celowość w ekonomii

Czesław Strzeszewski


In economics, methodological questions are still disputed. There arc still advocates of teleology, and for a long time the view was widespread that in economics only the method of functional or even correlating investigation was appropriate. Latterly there has been an evident return to methods of causal investigation. The author argues that in the case of economic theory only this method is appropriate, indicating its conformity with the methodological assumptions of Thomism.

The method of causal investigation is not, however, adequate in all branches of economic science. It is thus essential to make a distinction between economic theory and economic policy. In contradistinction to economic theory, which is empirical in character economic policy fixes objectives and means of economic activity, using an economic pattern which is in fact the structure — presented in the general terms of abstract analysis — of the given national economy. The science of economic policy so conceived may and even must use the teleological method, for it has a normative character.

This distinction between the theory of economis and economic policy removes the difficulty which those economists have encountered who have tried to define the relation of economics to ethics from the point of view of Christian morality. Their difficulty arose from the fact that human economic activity, like every human activity, is not without moral elements. This would seem to involve the necessity of subordinating economics to ethics, and so of giving economics the character of a normative science, which would be contrary to the whole .achievement of this branch of learning hitherto.

The author reaches the conclusion that economic theory is subject to philosophy, so that if the economist takes his stand on sound philosophical principles he cannot reach conclusions contrary to ethics; one can thus speak only of a negative and indirect (because via philosophy) dependence of economic theory on ethics. On the other hand economic policy is immediately and directly dependant on ethics, which is consistent with its normative character.

The theory of economics and economic policy use different methods, the first employing causal investigation as a basic method, adopting function and correlation and covariation as auxiliaries, to the exclusion of teleology, while economic policy is entirely teleological in character. Each branch of economics thus possesses its own distinct scientific method.

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