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


‘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


Futher information

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.

Full table of 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

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