Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

The Errors of Historicism in German Economics

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Abstract

This is the first-ever English translation of Carl Menger’s The Errors of Historicism in German Economics. Originally published in 1884, the book is Menger’s second major contribution to what became known as the Methodenstreit between him and Gustav Schmoller. Menger writes The Errors of Historicism in German Economics as a response to Schmoller’s harsh review of his Investigations into the Methods of the Social Sciences with Special Reference to Economics. Despite the polemical rhetoric of the book, its content reveals that the standard ‘deduction vs. induction’ or ‘theory vs. history’ narrative about the Methodenstreit is insufficiently narrow: Rather, the debate is about identifying complementarities and appropriate demarcation lines between the sub-fields of economics, not about the overall legitimacy of the different methods. The essay is preceded by an introduction by Karen Horn and Stefan Kolev which embeds the book in the larger context of the Methodenstreit and outlines the translation project conducted by Young Affiliates of the Network for Constitutional Economics and Social Philosophy NOUS.

Podcast related to this article: Karen Horn and Stefan Kolev on Menger vs. Schmoller (EJW Audio, September 2020).