Schumpeter’s theory of self-restoration: a casualty of Samuelson’s Whig historiography of science
This article argues that Samuelson’s influential 1987 call for a ‘Whig history of economic science’ rests on a Whig historiography of the natural sciences. This contrasts with how science actually works: Samuelson neglects the critical role of controversy in the development of knowledge, leading to the misleading idea that scientists pursue discovery at the expense of reflection on the foundation and history of their subject. The consequence is institutional delegitimation: the exclusion of legitimate contrary hypotheses when economists test their theories, invalidating the test. Samuelson further confuses the history of ideas with the history of texts. This expands the scope of institutional delegitimation to a systematic misrepresentation of the actual ideas at stake in the economic controversies, erecting a permanent obstacle to the discovery of truth. I illustrate this with Samuelson’s exclusion from consideration of two ‘non-ignorable’ contributions to macroeconomic theory: Schumpeter’s Business Cycles, which he failed to recognise as a theory of endogenous capitalist self-restoration, and the concept of endogenous decline, excluded by his Whig reinterpretation of Marx’s theory of value. Schumpeter and Marx offered opposed, but legitimate, alternatives to the post-war macroeconomic consensus of which Samuelson was a major architect. In particular, both recognised that deep and prolonged crises were a natural product of capitalism, not an inexplicable exception. To respond to the 2008 downturn, economics needs to reopen a wide discussion without excluding, a priori, any of these opposed theoretical explanations, instead seeking to understand clearly what each of them actually says and testing them against the empirical evidence of history.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 38 (2014)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP, UK|
Fax: 01865 267 985
Web page: http://www.cje.oupjournals.org/
|Order Information:||Web: http://www.oup.co.uk/journals|
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:38:y:2014:i:3:p:663-679.. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press)or (Christopher F. Baum)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.