The <i>Methodenstreit</i>

Bruce Caldwell

in Hayek's Challenge

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2003 | ISBN: 9780226091914
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226091921 | DOI:
The Methodenstreit

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This chapter discusses the Methodenstreit, the battle over methods between Carl Menger and Gustav Schmoller. It begins with an examination of the book that began the conflict, Menger's Investigations into the Method of the Social Sciences. Menger's major goal was to show that, despite Schmoller's assertions to the contrary, a theoretical approach to the investigation of social phenomena is, indeed, possible. It shows that, although certain aspects of his defense of theory involved principles that are widely accepted today, other parts raised questions that would occupy many subsequent generations of students of methodology. Looking further into the book, the chapter identifies issues that reemerge in the debates that Hayek would have with opponents a half century later. Once the study of the Investigations is complete, it describes and reflects on the polemical battle that followed. Although Joseph Schumpeter's assessment that the conflict was a “history of wasted energies” has much truth to it, the struggle had important consequences for the development of both the German historical and the Austrian schools, at the time as well as in subsequent decades.

Keywords: Carl Menger; Gustav Schmoller; Investigations; social phenomena

Chapter.  7586 words. 

Subjects: Economic History

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