The writing of an acknowledgments page is a pleasant endeavor, for at least two reasons. First, though one’s thinking on methodology is never completed, it is mercifully true that books are finished, and when one begins writing acknowledgments, the realization that one is nearly done with the job brings with it a feeling that borders on rapture. Second, reflecting on all of the people who have been helpful along the way also produces gratifying emotions. So I address this task with relish.
In a first book the temptation is great to mention everyone who has provided guidance and assistance in one’s journey. I resist that temptation here, not with the intent of slighting the many who have been helpful, but in order to single out those whose generosity has been inspiring.
In this category, two individuals stand out: Professor Robert Barry of the College of William and Mary and Professor Vincent Tarascio of the University of North Carolina. Bob Barry was the first to show me that economics was not simply a field worth studying, but an interesting one. His encouragement during some of the more bleak periods in my graduate training gave me the will to persist. Each time that I would return to my undergraduate alma mater to discuss economics with him, I knew that on previous visits my ideas had been naive; he had the grace and patience never to point that out. His role model as a teacher and an advisor has been a difficult one to duplicate, but is an ideal to which I aspire.
Vince Tarascio was my major field professor and dissertation advisor, but far more important, he has been a constant source of sound advice throughout my academic career. I went to the trough often, and always came away satisfied. Though his duties as an academic and as the editor of the Southern Economic Journal make large demands on his time, he always gave unstintingly of it to me. His support of my interest in methodology, his advice on matters of substance, style, procedure, and strategy in the execution of this manuscript, and his continued interest in my professional development comprise a list of debts for which these few lines are grossly inadequate compensation.
I would also like to thank Tony Esler of William and Mary, who first introduced me to the study of intellectual history, and Bill Pfouts of UNC, who made the first grim weeks of graduate school exciting with his lectures on economic methodology.