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Missing Links: Hume, Smith, Kant and Economic Methodology

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  • Stuart Holland
  • Teresa Carla Oliveira
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    Abstract

    This paper traces missing links in the history of economic thought. In outlining Hume’s concept of ‘the reflexive mind’ it shows that this opened frontiers between philosophy and psychology which Bertrand Russell denied and which logical positivism in philosophy and positive economics displaced. It relates this to Hume’s influence not only on Smith, but also on Schopenhauer and the later Wittgenstein, with parallels in Gestalt psychology and recent findings from neural research and cognitive psychology. It critiques Kant’s reaction to Hume’s claim that one may assume but cannot prove cause and effect and how Samuelson’s Foundations of Economic Analysis has been Kantian but wrong in claims for axioms that are universal truths. It illustrates how Samuelson’s presumption that language and mathematics are ‘identical’ was as mistaken as the logical atomism of Russell and the early Wittgenstein, relates this to Kleinian splitting, denial and projective identification and suggests that recovery of greater realism in economics needs to regain links with such philosophy and psychology.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by World Economics Association in its journal Economic Thought.

    Volume (Year): 2 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 2 (October)
    Pages: 46

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    Handle: RePEc:wea:econth:v:2:y:2013:i:2:p:46

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    1. George A. Akerlof, 2009. "How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1175-1175.
    2. Sheila C. Dow, 2002. "Interpretation: The Case of David Hume," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 34(2), pages 399-420, Summer.
    3. Robert C. Merton, 1973. "Theory of Rational Option Pricing," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 4(1), pages 141-183, Spring.
    4. Scholes, Myron S, 1998. "Derivatives in a Dynamic Environment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 350-70, June.
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    7. Amartya Sen, 2003. "Sraffa, Wittgenstein, and Gramsci," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1240-1255, December.
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    9. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
    10. Jevons, William Stanley, 1871. "The Theory of Political Economy," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number jevons1871.
    11. Carl Wennerlind, 2005. "David Hume's Monetary Theory Revisited: Was He Really a Quantity Theorist and an Inflationist?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 223-252, February.
    12. Merton, Robert C, 1998. "Applications of Option-Pricing Theory: Twenty-Five Years Later," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 323-49, June.
    13. Teresa Carla Oliveira & Stuart Holland, 2012. "On the centrality of human value," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 121-141, June.
    14. Paul A. Samuelson, 2004. "Where Ricardo and Mill Rebut and Confirm Arguments of Mainstream Economists Supporting Globalization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 135-146, Summer.
    15. Hume, David, 1758. "An Equiry Concerning Human Understanding," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number hume1758.
    16. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1992. " The Cross-Section of Expected Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(2), pages 427-65, June.
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