The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Positive Economics

  • Richard G. Lipsey
Reference work entry


‘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.


Agassi, J. Archibald, G. Assumptions Barriers to entry Bekar, C. Blaug, M. Caldwell, B. Carlaw, K. De Marchi, N. Economic history Falsificationism Friedman, M. Game theory Hahn, F. Hodgson, G. Hutchison, T. Industrial organization Klappholz, K. Labour economics Lind, H. Lipsey, R. G. Logical positivism Methodology Monopolistic competition Operationalism Policy advice Popper, K. Positive economics Positive–normative distinction Robbins, L. Samuelson, P. Scale effects Sunrise test Testing Theory appraisal Value judgements Verificationism Wong, S. 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard G. Lipsey
    • 1
  1. 1.