positive economics

Richard G. Lipsey
From The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Second Edition, 2008
Edited by Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume
Back to top


‘Positive economics’ refers to the view that economic theories consistent with all conceivable observations are empirically empty and that empirically useful theories need to be consistent with existing observations (thus passing the ‘sunrise test’) and predict something new. It is neither logical positivist, nor operationalist, nor naïve falsificationist; nor is it based on strict dichotomies between positive and normative statements and between positive analysis and normative advice. It rejects the views that theories can assist understanding the world without making refutable statements about it; that theories can be criticized only on their own terms; and that all distinctions inhibit useful discourse.
Back to top


Back to top


Back to top

How to cite this article

Lipsey, Richard G. "positive economics." The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Second Edition. Eds. Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics Online. Palgrave Macmillan. 17 December 2017 <http://www.dictionaryofeconomics.com/article?id=pde2008_P000130> doi:10.1057/9780230226203.1312

Download Citation:

as RIS | as text | as CSV | as BibTex