The Method and Research Programme of History of Economic Thought
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Publication date: 2004-11-25
GNPJE 2004;196(11-12):1-17
The article analyses development of the history of economic thought methodology. Two major models of practicing this discipline are distinguished: a nominalist one and a relationist one. The nominalist model, which had a dominating position at the early stage of development of economic sciences, was characteristic of physiocrats and classicists, and is still continued nowadays. The relationist model developed within the framework of the Scottish Historical School, the German Older and Younger Historical Schools, Marxism and the Sociology of Knowledge. The dispute among those models found its culmination in the Methodenstret of the late 19% century in polemics between the Austrian School and the Younger Historical School. It concerned the methodological status of the science of economics and, by the same token, its history. A nomothetic, deductive and synchronic approach was presented on the one hand, and an idiographic, inductive and diachronic approach on the other hand. On the one hand, a model was developed of practicing history of economics as an internal history of logical self-improvement of economic theory through creative effort of subsequent generations of economists. On the other hand, 2 model of the economic theory was proposed as an exogenous history covering development of the theory of economics in connection with social development and the history of other social sciences. The dispute over methodology in the history of economic thought has been wrapped up in writings by M, Weber and, especially, by J.A. Schumpeter. Then, the article analyses the way in which historians of economics make use of achievements of subsequent stages of development of contemporary philosophy of science and various theories of knowledge development. It examines possibilities for application of the KR. Popper, T.S. Kuhn and I. Lakatos model in history of economics research. Reasons for popularity of the Lakatos model among economists and historians of economics are pointed out.
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