Pareto's Methodological Approach to Economics: A Study in the History of Some Scientific Aspects of Economic Thought

By Vincent J. Tarascio | Go to book overview

VII Conclusion

I shall now undertake an evaluation of Pareto's place in the development of economic science. In particular, I shall focus attention on Pareto's contribution in relation to modern methodological positions. The choice of modern methodological positions as a criterion for evaluating the significance of Pareto's methodology presents some difficulties, since many of the issues discussed in this study are far from resolved. Nevertheless, there are prevailing views, and these will be presented in this chapter.

The problem of ethical neutrality serves as a good example of an issue that is far from resolved. At first glance, a casual inspection of the literature on the subject would seem to indicate that modern scientific opinion ranges (as it did in Pareto's time) from the view that economics cannot be anything but an ethical discipline to the view that "positive" economics is independent of any ethical position or normative judgments. For instance, T. W. Hutchison has recently argued that Joan Robinson, G. Myrdal, and A. Smithies hold the former opinion, while G. Haberler, M. Friedman, G. Stigler, and L. Robbins are of the latter opinion.1 He further states that the point of view which claims that "positive" economics is independent of any ethical or normative judgments is the "orthodox" view.2 Also, he takes the stance that the possible separation of (value-free) "positive" economics and "normative" economics "was almost a basic tenet of the 'orthodox' methodology of economics for about a hundred years from Nassau Senior and J. S. Mill, through Caimes, J. N. Keynes, Pareto and Max Weber, down to Robbins and Friedman."3 Finally

____________________
1
T. W. Hutchison, 'Positive' Economics and Policy Obiectives ( Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964), pp. 13-14, 48n.
3
Ibid., p. 18 Hutchison then qualifies this rather sweeping statement by adding that the "orthodox" view "never acquired the exclusive acceptance and dominance of a completely orthodox dogma" (Ibid.).

-126-

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Pareto's Methodological Approach to Economics: A Study in the History of Some Scientific Aspects of Economic Thought
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Studies in Economics and Business Administration i
  • Title Page v
  • Contents xi
  • I- Introduction 3
  • II- Pareto and His Time 6
  • III- Ethical Neutrality Requirement 30
  • IV- The Scope of Economics and Sociology 56
  • V- Pareto''s Methodology and Method in the Social Sciences 85
  • VI- Pareto''s Methodology and Method in Economics 104
  • VII- Conclusion 126
  • Index 147
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