John Kay is one of my favorite economists for his clear thinking about complexity. He notes that real businesses rarely hire microeconomists to help, since micro theory is often woefully simplistic, touting the mantra of “profit maximization”—when one often needs to approach this target obliquely.
In this post Kay defends the liberal arts as most likely to help prepare us for our unknown future:
It is a mistake to focus basic education on job-specific skills that a changing world will render redundant in a few years. The objective should be to equip students to enjoy rewarding employment and fulfilling lives in a future environment whose demands we can neither anticipate nor predict. In 20 years, we will probably not be using the Black Scholes model, or referring to the case of Bloggs v Bloggs. But the capacities to think critically, judge numbers, compose prose and observe carefully — the capacities that education can and should develop — will be as useful then as they are today.
And knowing something about ethics will be a key part of thinking critically.