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A historical reconstruction of the connections between the Viennese neopositivists and the American pragmatists: economic theory in the project for the International Encyclopaedia of Unified Science

Persuaded by the fact that the philosophical debate in Vienna during the 1930s deeply influenced the subsequent American developments of economic theory, my purpose is to reconstruct, from a historical and theoretical point of view, how Austrian interests in economics (which spread in the interwar period) moved to the USA, and what the subsequent developments were. From a historical point of view, I shall focus on the genesis of the International Encyclopaedia of Unified Science promoted by philosophers belonging to the Vienna Circle (Otto Neurath, Rudolph Carnap and Philipp Frank) and American pragmatists (John Dewey and, above all, Charles Morris) between 1938 and 1969. From a theoretical point of view, I shall focus on the development of economic theory within this project, which was regarded as the most important outcome of logical positivism or new empiricism, this being the common philosophical outlook that they shared. The aim of this paper is to show how the original meaning of economics (as formulated by Neurath) within the Vienna Circle was changed in its transition from Vienna to the USA (when the International Encyclopaedia was organized) and was finally radically transformed in the American context during the following decades.

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Paper provided by University of Turin in its series CESMEP Working Papers with number 200904.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2009
Handle: RePEc:uto:cesmep:200904
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  1. Malcolm Rutherford, 2004. "Institutional Economics at Columbia University," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 36(1), pages 31-78, Spring.
  2. Punzo, Lionello F., 1991. "The School of Mathematical Formalism and the Viennese Circle of Mathematical Economists," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(01), pages 1-18, June.
  3. Earlene Craver, 1986. "The Emigration of the Austrian Economists," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 18(1), pages 1-32, Spring.
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