Summing Up Paul Samuelson

Summing Up Paul Samuelson

In the treacherous maelstrom of economic beliefs, Samuelson has, over the years, stood firmly upon the rock of scientific impartiality. Challenged by economists of the Radical Right and Left, Samuelson has adhered to the principle that controversial facts can be stated without being admired or deplored. Formerly identified as a brash and bright 'Young Turk', Samuelson is now seen, by some, as a pillar of the establishment, seeking to avoid judgement on controversial questions of economic policy. However, in refusing to be labelled in terms other than a scientist, Samuelson draws a clear distinction between those aspects of economics that are susceptible to contentious, subjective, nor­mative debate and the areas of the discipline that are grounded in scientific objectivity. (A classic example of this distinction occurring with the ethical foundations of the individualistic social welfare function (Samuelson, 1947, 1977).) In consistently revea­ling a preference for deductive over 'seductive' economics, Samuelson must be judged, for posterity, according to his own logic.