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Frank Knight and pragmatism


  • D. Wade Hands


One of many controversies surrounding the work of Frank Knight involves the question of whether, or to what degree, his ideas were consistent with those of American pragmatism. Substantive textual evidence can be found to support almost any simple answer to the question. This paper argues that while Knight was quite (often aggressively) opposed to a particular set of pragmatic ideas alive in the scholarly and social debates of his day, this fact says more about Knight's historical context than it does about the broader relationship between his philosophical position and pragmatism. Knight was opposed to the social control pragmatism of his day, but at the same time his general philosophical position has much in common with the features of the pragmatic tradition that are most emphasized in the recent philosophical literature.

Suggested Citation

  • D. Wade Hands, 2006. "Frank Knight and pragmatism," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(4), pages 571-605.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:eujhet:v:13:y:2006:i:4:p:571-605
    DOI: 10.1080/09672560601025779

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rosenberg, Alexander, 1992. "Economics--Mathematical Politics or Science of Diminishing Returns?," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226727233, June.
    2. Ross B. Emmett, 1999. "The Economist and the Entrepreneur: Modernist Impulses in Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 31(1), pages 29-52, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. Luca Fiorito, 2015. "A Certain Amount of ‘Recantation'. On the Origins of Frank H. Knight’s Antipositivism," Department of Economics University of Siena 705, Department of Economics, University of Siena.


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