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T. E. Cliffe Leslie and the English Methodenstreit


This article is part of a wider historical research program in which I seek to examine the origins of past methodological debates. It is my opinion that economists ignore methodological and philosophical issues until either the doctrinal conclusions of the school to which they belong are challenged or they themselves contest the doctrinal conclusions of an alternative school. Once this occurs, economists select, reinterpret or construct methodological precepts in order to gain the maximum support for their position. Under this hypothesis the formation and articulation of methodological beliefs are largely endogenous to matters relating to economics; that is, the traditional causal process of methodology to theory to policy is turned on its head and becomes policy to theory to methodology. The aim of what follows is to illustrate this research program by examining the methodological framework expounded by T. E. Cliffe Leslie in the early stages of the English economic Methodenstreit or “battle of methods.”

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P. Adelman 1971. “Frederic Harrison and the ‘Positivist’ Attack on Orthodox Political Economy,History of Political Economy, 3, 170–89.

R. D. C. Black 19721981. Papers and Correspondence of William Stanley Jevons, 7 vols., Macmillan, London.

A. W. Coats 1954. “The Historicist Reaction to English Political Economy,Economica, n.s., 21, 143–53.

H. Grossman 1943. “The Evolutionist Revolt Against Classical Economics, Parts I and II,Journal of Political Economy, 51, 381–96, 502–22.

G. M. Koot 1975. “T. E. Cliffe Leslie, Irish Social Reform, and the Origins of the English Historical School of Economics,History of Political Economy, 7, 312–36.

G. M. Koot 1980. “English Historical Economics and the Emergence of Economic History in England,History of Political Economy, 12, 173205.

R. Yeo 1985. “An Idol of the Market-Place: Baconianism in Nineteenth Century Britain,History of Science, 23, 251–98.

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Journal of the History of Economic Thought
  • ISSN: 1053-8372
  • EISSN: 1469-9656
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-history-of-economic-thought
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