On The Methodology Of Economics And The Formalist Revolution


On The Methodology Of Economics And The Formalist Revolution

Terence Hutchison

Terence Hutchison, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Birmingham, UK

2000, 392 pp Hb 978 1 84064 040 3

Hardback £112.00 on-line discount £100.80

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Description
‘Terence Hutchison has been a prominent contributor to the literature on economic methodology for the past sixty years. This collection, which includes several new essays, focuses on a consistent theme in his work – the limitations of excessively abstract and formal theorizing and the importance of bringing empirical evidence to bear on economic problems. Sixty years on, his critique of economists’ excessive claims for their discipline is as hard-hitting as ever. This is a volume that deserves to be widely read and discussed.’
– Roger E. Backhouse, University of Birmingham, UK

Contents
Contents: 1. Introduction: The Methodology of Economics and the Formalist Revolution 2. On the Relations Between Philosophy and Economics: Part I: Frontier Problems in an Era of Departmentalized and Internationalized ‘Professionalism’ Part II: To what Kind of Philosophical Problems should Economists Address Themselves? 3. On Prediction and Economic Knowledge 4. ‘Crisis’ in the 1970s: The Crisis of Abstraction 5. The Keynesian Revolution, Uncertainty, and Deductive General Theory 6. The Limitations of General Theories in Macroeconomics 7. Changing Aims in Economics 8. Ultra-deductivism from Nassau Senior to Lionel Robbins and Daniel Hausman 9. Two Cheers for Formalism?: No: One, at Most 10. From The Wealth of Nations to Modern General Equilibrium ‘Theory’: Methodological Comparisons and Contrasts Index

Futher information

‘. . . the book is excellent and the reader will find in it all the ingredients that gave the author his fame.’
– Piero Barucci, History of Economic Ideas

‘Terence Hutchison is one of the most eminent economists currently writing on economic methodology.’
– Daniel Hausman, Economic Record

‘Terence Hutchison has been a prominent contributor to the literature on economic methodology for the past sixty years. This collection, which includes several new essays, focuses on a consistent theme in his work – the limitations of excessively abstract and formal theorizing and the importance of bringing empirical evidence to bear on economic problems. Sixty years on, his critique of economists’ excessive claims for their discipline is as hard-hitting as ever. This is a volume that deserves to be widely read and discussed.’
– Roger E. Backhouse, University of Birmingham, UK

‘Terence Hutchison is the godfather of economic methodologists the world over. His brilliant first book The Significance and Basic Postulates of Economic Theory started us all off. It was written over sixty years ago but he has never ceased to elaborate it, to refine it, and, occasionally, to revise it. He has always written well but in recent years his writings have reached a new level of cogency and a new level of passionate intensity. This collection will be devoured by every economist with the slightest interest in methodological issues. Would that all economists read it: it might transform our subject.’
– The late Mark Blaug, formerly of the University of London and University of Buckingham, UK

This collection of essays examines the methodological problems confronting economists in the face of two major developments in the second half of the twentieth century. The first is the vast increase in the number and variety of writings on the methodology or ‘philosophy’ of economics, especially from those intensively specialising in methodology. This has led to the virtual breakdown in communication between methodologists and mainstream economists, with methodology becoming increasingly isolated from mainstream economics. The second major development has been what Benjamin Ward first called ‘the formalist revolution’ which he, not unjustifiably, described as ‘more important than the Keynesian Revolution’. Professor Hutchison attempts to contribute to serious methodological analysis of this ‘revolution’ and, at the same time, suggests how communication between mainstream economists and methodologists might be improved.

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