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Effective Tension in Robbins' Economic Methodology




Lionel Robbins' "Essay" is one of the most influential methodological works in twentieth century economics. This said, the "Essay" is not philosophically seamless; it exhibits certain tensions that are not easily reconciled within any specific philosophical characterization of scientific knowledge. This paper discusses these issues, but also emphasizes that these tensions did not inhibit the influence of the "Essay" within economics. In fact, it is argued that these philosophical tensions actually contributed to its influence. It was a methodology for economics, not for philosophers, and its influence needs to be understood within the context of 1930s marginalist economics. Copyright (c) The London School of Economics and Political Science 2009.

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  • D. Wade Hands, 2009. "Effective Tension in Robbins' Economic Methodology," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(s1), pages 831-844, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:76:y:2009:i:s1:p:831-844

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. R. W. Souter, 1933. ""The Nature and Significance of Economic Science" in Recent Discussion," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(3), pages 377-413.
    2. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger, 2006. "Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
    3. Robbins, Lionel [Lord], 1981. "Economics and Political Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 1-10, May.
    4. Susan Howson, 2004. "The Origins of Lionel Robbins's Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 36(3), pages 413-443, Fall.
    5. Kyu Sang Lee & Philip Mirowski, 2008. "The energy behind Vernon Smith's experimental economics," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 257-271, March.
    6. D. Wade Hands, 2010. "Economics, psychology and the history of consumer choice theory," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(4), pages 633-648.
    7. Walsh, Vivian, 1996. "Rationality, Allocation, and Reproduction," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198287728.
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    Cited by:

    1. D. Wade Hands, 2014. "Paul Samuelson and Revealed Preference Theory," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 46(1), pages 85-116, Spring.
    2. Thiago Dumont Oliveira & Carlos Eduardo Suprinyak, 2018. "Of time, uncertainty, and policy-making : Lionel Robbins’ lost philosophy of political economy," Textos para Discussão Cedeplar-UFMG 580, Cedeplar, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais.
    3. Thiago Dumont Oliveira & Carlos Eduardo Suprinyak, 2016. "Lionel Robbins’ first-step individualism and the prehistory of microfoundations," Textos para Discussão Cedeplar-UFMG 537, Cedeplar, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais.
    4. repec:spr:jhappi:v:19:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9829-7 is not listed on IDEAS

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