IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Methodenstreit 2011? Historical perspective on the contemporary debate over how to reform economics


  • Peter Spiegler

    () (Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Boston)

  • William Milberg

    () (Department of Economics, New School for Social Research)


The general failure of economists to predict the financial crash of 2008 gave rise to a lively and apparently wide-ranging debate over the state of the discipline and the need (if any) for significant reform. But has the actual debate been robust enough to contemplate significant reform, or has it fallen short? We propose a framework for assessing the depth of methodological debate and apply it to the current methodological debate. Doing so, we find that the current debate has been shallow, especially when compared to historical precedents of deep debate such as the late 19th-century Methodenstreit and the period of Keynesian innovation. Moreover, we conclude that unless the few voices pressing for deep debate are given their due, there is little hope that the recent disciplinary crisis will be met with an appropriate level of reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Spiegler & William Milberg, 2011. "Methodenstreit 2011? Historical perspective on the contemporary debate over how to reform economics," Working Papers 1106, New School for Social Research, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:new:wpaper:1106

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2011
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mulligan Casey B, 2009. "Is Macroeconomics Off Track?," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 6(10), pages 1-4, November.
    2. Heino Heinrich Nau, 2000. "Gustav Schmoller's Historico-Ethical Political Economy : ethics, politics and economics in the younger German Historical School, 1860-1917," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(4), pages 507-531.
    3. anonymous, 2009. "Atlanta Fed economist examines the subprime crisis," Financial Update, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    4. George A. Akerlof, 2009. "How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1175-1175.
    5. Buiter, Willem, 2009. "The unfortunate uselessness of most ’state of the art’ academic monetary economics," MPRA Paper 58407, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 06 Mar 2009.
    6. Hands,D. Wade, 2001. "Reflection without Rules," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521797962, December.
    7. Gerald Epstein & Jessica Carrick-Hagenbarth, 2010. "Financial Economists, Financial Interests and Dark Corners of the Meltdown: It’s Time to Set Ethical Standards for the Economics Profession," Working Papers wp239_revised, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    8. John H. Cochrane, 2011. "HOW DID PAUL KRUGMAN GET IT SO WRONG?-super-1," Economic Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(2), pages 36-40, June.
    9. Kregel, J A, 1976. "Economic Methodology in the Face of Uncertainty: The Modelling Methods of Keynes and the Post-Keynesians," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 86(342), pages 209-225, June.
    10. Tribe,Keith, 2007. "Strategies of Economic Order," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521619431, October.
    11. Olivier Blanchard, 2009. "The State of Macro," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 209-228, May.
    12. Axel Leijonhufvud, 2009. "Out of the corridor: Keynes and the crisis," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(4), pages 741-757, July.
    13. Spiegler, Peter & Milberg, William, 2009. "The taming of institutions in economics: the rise and methodology of the ‘ new new institutionalism’," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(03), pages 289-313, December.
    14. Eatwell, John & Milgate, Murray, 2011. "The Fall and Rise of Keynesian Economics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199777693.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Gabriela Przeslawska, 2016. "Rethinking economics in response to current crisis phenomena," Ekonomia i Prawo, Uniwersytet Mikolaja Kopernika, vol. 15(1), pages 133-146, March.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:new:wpaper:1106. 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: (Mark Setterfield). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.