Journal of the History of Economic Thought

Articles

T. E. Cliffe Leslie and the English Methodenstreit

Gregory C. G. Moore

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.”