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Economic singularism

A Research Annual

ISBN: 978-1-84663-904-3, eISBN: 978-1-84663-905-0

Publication date: 31 July 2008


Why all the fuss over labeling? Certainly it is a matter of relative unimportance what we call things; the substance of the matter is far more important. When matters are put forward in this manner, this claim can hardly be denied. However, nomenclature too is important, particularly if it speaks to the essence of the categorization of an enterprise. For example, while it is undoubtedly an exaggeration to say that biology consists of nothing but naming things and categorizing them, this is not exactly so.A great deal of biological science indeed focuses on nothing other than this. It is a matter of crucial importance whether a species is part of this or the other genera, class, or phylum, for example. Also, chemistry is no different: many of its insights depend intimately on the placement of a given substance in the periodic table of elements. These are “mere” matters of nomenclature, labeling, and categorization, but they are not to be dismissed by careful scientists. A similar point can also be made in economics. In the dismal science, too, scholars speak past each other if they mean different things by such terms as “capital,” “interest,” and “profit,” etc.


Barnett, W. and Block, W. (2008), "Economic singularism", Samuels, W.J., Biddle, J.E. and Emmett, R.B. (Ed.) A Research Annual (Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, Vol. 26 Part 1), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 15-30.



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