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From the very early days of the discipline (basically the eighteenth century, when it was called 'political economy') economics has had a strong normative slant. It's always been about what should be done, as well as about describing what currently exists.

This is normal, because the foundations of a given society are intensely political and have a huge impact on the nature of economic activities that exist (whether independent courts will enforce loan contracts, for example, is a political decision with major consequences for capital flows).

Recently, the public face of economics has been largely microeconomic modelling, which looks (from a distance) like an apolitical applied science. But the economic historians and the political economy people have always been part of the discipline as well, whether they be Marx or Milton Friedman.

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