When we put a satellite in orbit around Mars, we have the scientific knowledge that guarantees accuracy and precision in the prediction of its orbit. Achieving a comparable level of certainty about the outcomes of an economy is far dicier. The fact that the discipline of economics hasn’t helped us improve our predictive abilities suggests it is still far from being a science, and may never be.Even though it "uses quantitative expression in mathematics," Rosenberg and Curtain argue, economics "lacks the most important of science's characteristics — a record of improvement in predictive range and accuracy."
Let's suppose that predictive success is a characteristic of science, as Rosenberg and Curtain argue. What kind of characteristic is predictive success supposed to be? Is it a necessary characteristic such that a theory counts as a scientific theory only if it makes accurate predictions (which is why economics is not a science, according to Rosenberg and Curtain)? Is it a sufficient characteristic such that any theory that makes accurate predictions is a scientific theory? Or is it both necessary and sufficient such that a theory is a scientific theory if and only if it makes accurate predictions?
In other words, which of the following, if any, is true?
- Theory T is a scientific theory only if T makes accurate predictions.
- If T makes accurate predictions, then T is a scientific theory.
- T is a scientific theory if and only if T makes accurate predictions.
Recipe: 3 eggs white; 3/4 cup white sugar; 1/2 cup butter; 1/4 cup vanilla; 1 cup flour
That is, this recipe allows us to make fortune cookies that make accurate predictions in much the same way that Newtonian mechanics allows us to send satellites into orbit. If we get the ingredients and/or amounts wrong, e.g., if we put 2 instead of 3 eggs, then the fortune cookies would not make accurate predictions, just as if we get the calculations wrong, the satellite would crash rather than go into orbit.
|"Your next article will be published in the best philosophy of science journal."|
Now, the question is this: does this recipe for making fortune cookies that make accurate predictions meet the condition of predictive success? If so, is this recipe a scientific theory?