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The Atlantic divide: methodological and epistemological differences in economic history


  • Pier Angelo Toninelli

    () (Department of Economics, University of Milan-Bicocca)


In the paper the development of economic history will be placed within the evolution of Western thought and culture. Therefore an analysis of the connections between economic history and contemporary epistemology will be carried out. In this perspective an analogy with the traditional division between analytic philosophy and continental philosophy would appear to be useful for economic history too: the first had long prevailed in Anglo-Saxon, the second in continental, culture. This partition evokes and embraces the antithesis between scientific and humanist culture, between logic and rhetoric, analysis and interpretation, conceptual clarification and visions of the world. The paper suggest that the opposition that loomed large over the post W.W.II decades between Anglo-American and European economic histories can also be conceived as a specific form of the wider opposition between ‘analytic style’ and ‘continental style’.

Suggested Citation

  • Pier Angelo Toninelli, 2007. "The Atlantic divide: methodological and epistemological differences in economic history," Working Papers 112, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:112

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    More about this item


    economic history; methodology; epistemology; cliometrics; business history; economic thought;

    JEL classification:

    • N01 - Economic History - - General - - - Development of the Discipline: Historiographical; Sources and Methods
    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology

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