Economics today cannot predict the likely outcome of specific events any better than it could in the time of Adam Smith. This is Alexander Rosenberg's controversial challenge to the scientific status of economics. Rosenberg explains that the defining characteristic of any science is predictive improvability—the capacity to create more precise forecasts by evaluating the success of earlier predictions—and he forcefully argues that because economics has not been able to increase its predictive power for over two centuries, it is not a science.
Rosenberg (philosophy, U. of California, Riverside) says that although there are no established criteria for determining what is a hard science and what is not, at the very least, a discipline should be able to improve its predictive record in the first two centuries of its existence. By this standard, he says, economics is not a science, but a branch of political philosophy that applies mathematics to human behavior. For non (or skeptical) specialists. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)