Chapter 1
A First Look at Economics

"It is only by argument, by conflict if you like, that economics makes progress."
English economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946)


  • What's worse for you, hemlock or rhetoric?
  • Philosophy of social science after the Age of Bell Bottoms
  • Boundary conditions in your living room arguments
  • An economic explanation for everything

What is economics about? What do economists do? Is economics a science? Most people have only the faintest idea of what economics is as a discipline, and many of their impressions are mistaken. Economics can't tell you how to get rich. And it doesn't provide a formula for attaining social justice. But it can help you understand how your own livelihood is connected to the larger economic world, and introduce you to the ongoing conversation - among economists, government officials, business leaders, and ordinary citizens - about how to make the world more fair and rich and prosperous for all.