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Essays in Positive Economics (Phoenix Books) Paperback – August 15, 1966

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Milton Friedman (1912–2006) was an economist who taught at the University of Chicago for more than three decades. He was a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, and is known for his research on consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and the complexity of stabilization policy. He was a principal founder of what has come to be known as the Chicago School of Economics. He was a well-known public champion of laissez-faire capitalism.
 
In 1962 the University of Chicago Press published Capitalism and Freedom, one of the most influential books of the twentieth century. In 1998 the Press published Two Lucky People, the memoir by Milton and Rose Friedman of their joint lives and work. In reviewing the book in the New York Times Book Review, David Brooks wrote: “This is a book that restores your faith in reasoned discourse.… There really are people who believe in scholarly exchange as a way to discover truth.”
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Product Details

  • Series: Phoenix Books
  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (August 15, 1966)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226264033
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226264035
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,246,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
There are eleven essays in this book, the most famous of which is the "Case for Flexible Exchange Rates" -- an original and profoundly influential idea that Friedman proposed in the 'fifties. But the title of the book mostly reflects the lead essay, "Methodology of Positive Economics" which was and still is the most important for me.

As Friedman argues and most economists agree, "positive economics" is possible only when one removes their values or political ideology from their effort to engage in economic science. I found this essay to be profoundly attractive after spending a bewildering year in graduate level philosophy of science. Friedman countered a longstanding emphasis in professional Economics concerning the importance of realistic assumptions with his view that positive science is to be judged on the basis of the accuracy of predictions. Empirical evidence might support the proposition that realistic assumptions are more likely to yield accurate predictions, but at the end of the day we must use predictions to judge theory. An excellent example is found on the cover of The Economist magazine 02Aug2007. The headline on the cover of the magazine was
"A good time for a squeeze The benefits of tighter credit"
Whatever economic theory The Economist was using at the time they made that prediction that theory should have been discarded by subsequent events (the collapse of mortgage prices mostly in the US but elsewhere as well) according Friedman's notion of "positive economics."

Based on Friedman's sweeping assertion that science is to be judged by its predictive power I've had endless debates with social scientists who argue that science is to advance understanding -- that prediction alone is too narrow a standard.
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Format: Paperback
Love him or hate him, Milton Friedman was a giant of 20th century economics, and this book provides a good example of his thinking on economics when Keynesianism was in the ascendancy. This book is a collection of his early papers (some previously published articles and book reviews, some unpublished before this book) on a variety of topics. There is no common theme other than they are all written by Friedman and all were to have some influence on the economics profession (some more - much more - than others). The most famous paper/chapter in the book is the first, "The Methodology of Positive Economics". Although the book's title proclaims it to be about 'positive' (fact-based analysis) economics, many of the papers are actually about policy and are fairly explicitly normative.
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Format: Paperback
There are some real thought provoking essays in this book but I found the lack of flow and unrelated essays a bit tiring. I guess one alternative Friedman could have done (and he did publish many individual "essays") was not put so many unrelated topics under one book title and simply leave them on their own merit. I think he thought he was doing the reader a favor by combining these thoughts. There are some real classics on foreign exchange, gold standard flirtations and government policy. In summary, DON'T make this book one of the first you read from him because it can be a bit confusing.
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By A Customer on July 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
Essays in this book included his famous "The Methodology of Positive Economics" and "The Marshallian Demand Curve". There are other essays on monetary economics, price theory and methodology. You can learn a lot from this book about Friedman's way of thinking
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