Effective Tension in Robbins’s Economic Methodology
Lionel Robbins' Essay is one of the most influential methodological works in twentieth century economics. This said, the Essay is not philosophically seamless; it exhibits certain tensions that are not easily reconciled within any specific philosophical characterization of scientific knowledge. This paper discusses these issues, but also emphasizes that these tensions did not inhibit the influence of the Essay within economics. In fact, it is argued that these philosophical tensions actually contributed to its influence. It was a methodology for economics, not for philosophers, and its influence needs to be understood within the context of 1930s marginalist economics.
Effective Tension in Robbins' Economic Methodology D. Wade Hands Economica , New Series, Vol. 76, Supplement 1: Robbins's Essay at 75 (Oct., 2009), pp. 831-844