IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

James Mill as an Economist: Theory Dominated by Deductive Method

  • Thomas Torrance
Registered author(s):

    Our conclusion about James Mill is that his Achilles heel as an economic thinker, as evidenced by the content of his Elements, is that his theoretical analysis isn’t truly appropriate given the subject matter he is attempting to understand, namely real-world social phenomena and their underlying generative processes. As an economic analyst, Mill is deeply in thrall to a geometric-type deductive method that destructively inhibits his theories from posing the appropriate questions of the empirical phenomena and events he seeks to explain. Especially in regard to his unappreciative critiques of Hume’s monetary theory and of Malthus’s theory of gluts, Mill’s strict deductive method prevents his theory from accepting temporal sequencing as a key theoretical category in his explanatory analysis. With an impoverished usage of the concept of time, Mill’s economic explanations, though succinctly constructed in elegant logical form, fall far short of the best examples of economic analysis found in the previous century. In science generally, explanatory theories that are dominated by inadequate methodological presuppositions are invariably inadequate themselves. Mill’s economic theory is no exception to this general rule. Mill was a man who was well known and regarded in his lifetime, and for a period afterwards, as a leading intellectual political and social reformer. Long-term historical memory, however, views James Mill as perhaps being best known as the father of John Stuart Mill.

    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.

    File URL: http://www.sml.hw.ac.uk/documents/dp2005-e02.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Department of Economics, School of Management and Languages, Heriot Watt University in its series Working Papers with number E02.

    as
    in new window

    Length:
    Date of creation: 2005
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hwe:hwecwp:2005-e02
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Edinburgh EH14 4AS
    Phone: +44(0)131 451 3497
    Fax: +44(0)131 451 3497
    Web page: http://www.sml.hw.ac.uk/departments/accountancy-economics-finance.htm

    More information through EDIRC

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hwe:hwecwp:2005-e02. 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: (Colin Miller)

    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.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.