The History and Epistemology of Economics

Catalogue des cours de Institut Mines-Télécom Business School






2ème Année Management,2ème Année Télécom




Sciences humaines



Crédits ECTS


Heures programmées


Charge de travail




  • Langues et Sciences Humaines

Equipe pédagogique


Since the financial crisis of 2007-2008, there have been many public debates regarding the roles and functions of the economy and economics in the political life of modern societies. These debates have primarily dealt with the question of the conflicting relationship between economic expertise and the process of democratic decision-making. They have also dealt with the question of normative values in economics: do economic models prioritize certain normative values such as material prosperity to the detriment of other normative values such as environmental and ecological sustainability and politico-economic justice or not? At a more technical level, these debates have dealt with the epistemological peculiarities of economics and the use of mathematical models, and whether having a more historical and multi-disciplinary approach to economics would not be more fruitful. The aim of this course is to study the main issues of these debates by situating them within the context of the history of economics. It will try to examine the history and epistemology of modern economics in the light of these debates. By doing so, it will try to understand the way economics as a scientific discipline has tried to grapple with the questions raised by these debates, albeit in very different manners. This means that the course will not deal with economic theories from a technical point of view; it will rather try to analyze the heterogeneous ways that economics’ role, reach and functions have been thought throughout its history.

Attentes du cours

The course will consist of 12 lectures, each lasting for 90 minutes. Participating in all of them is compulsory, and students’ attendance will be systematically checked.


50% : Contrôle Continu (Individual Presentation).
50% : Contrôle Final (Dealing with questions raised during the lectures)
1point en oins sur la note de contrôle continu pour chaque absence non justifiée

Approches pédagogiques

For each lecture, students have to read one or two texts. We will then discuss the texts in the class. It is therefore important that the students read the texts in advance in order to facilitate the debates.


Programme grande école,Programme Ingénieur

Plan du cours

1.The Overall Structure, Purposes, and Concepts of the Course
2.Different Forms of Epistemology (Positive, Normative, Analytical, Historical)
3.Important Issues & Debates in Contemporary Economics 1:
The Methodology of Economics
(Milton Friedman & Karl Popper)
4.Important Issues & Debates in Contemporary Economics 2:
The Methodology of Economics (Economical Negationism, Economism)
(Cahuc, Zylberberg, Orléan, Ross)
5.Important Issues & Debates in Contemporary Economics 3:
The Use & Misuse of Mathematics and Models in Economics
(Piketty, Rodrik)
6.Important Issues & Debates in Contemporary Economics 4:
Economic Expertise and Democratic Decision Making
(Earle et al.)
Extracts from the movie “Inside Job”
7.Important Issues & Debates in Contemporary Economics 5:
The Normativity of Economics 1 (MacKenzie, Nelson, Latouche)
8.The Normativity of Economics 2:
Moral Sentiments and Economics (Adam Smith)
9.The Normativity of Economics 3:
Economics and Political Struggles (Karl Marx)
10.The Normativity of Economics 4:
The Historical Aspect of Norms
(Karl Polanyi)
11.The Normativity of Economics 5:
Economics and Freedom (Ludwig von Mises)

Fiche mise à jour le 22/11/2019