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Can Economics be Founded on 'Indisputable Facts of Experience'? Lionel Robbins and the Pioneers of Neoclassical Economics

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  • ROBERT SUGDEN

Abstract

Robbins argues that the fundamental propositions of microeconomic theory are deductions from the assumption that individuals act on consistent preferences; this 'indisputable fact of experience' does not need to be validated in controlled experiments. While recognising that some neoclassical pioneers based the theory on psychological hedonism, Robbins claims that his own approach of 'pure theory' belongs to a parallel and sounder tradition exemplified by Menger and Wicksteed. This paper argues that Robbins' methodological defence of pure theory is incoherent, and that his claim to find an intellectual lineage in the works of Menger and Wicksteed overlooks important discontinuities. Copyright (c) The London School of Economics and Political Science 2009.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by London School of Economics and Political Science in its journal Economica.

Volume (Year): 76 (2009)
Issue (Month): s1 (October)
Pages: 857-872

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Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:76:y:2009:i:s1:p:857-872

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Cited by:
  1. Avner Offer, 2012. "Self-interest, Sympathy and the Invisible Hand: From Adam Smith to Market Liberalism," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _101, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.

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