The Uses and Abuses of Economics: Contentious Essays on History and Method

The Uses and Abuses of Economics: Contentious Essays on History and Method

The Uses and Abuses of Economics: Contentious Essays on History and Method

The Uses and Abuses of Economics: Contentious Essays on History and Method


Terence Hutchison has made a unique contribution to debates in the history of economic thought and in economic methodology. The material collected here - much of which is appearing for the first time - includes some of the most significant and provocative parts of this contribution. Working from the principle that an idea that offends no one is not worth entertaining, the essays selected here offer a major reinterpretation of what has been called 'the Smithian Revolution', and especially of Ricardo, plus a re-assessment of subjectivism and the methodology of the Austrian school.


Of the papers in this volume the earliest published, in very nearly its present form, is No. 2 on Jeremy Bentham as an Economist, which first appeared in 1956. At least one paper, however, incorporates material from earlier essays or reviews, notably No. 3 on James Mill and Ricardo, which draws on writings from 1952 and 1953. Quite a large proportion of the volume, however, has originated since 1991, that is, No. 5 on Ricardian Politics, No. 9 on Subjectivism, No. 12 on Jacob Viner, and No. 13 on The Uses and Abuses of Academic Economics; while much of No. 10 on Hayek and Mises has been written since 1990. Brief ‘Addenda (1993)’ have been appended to Nos. 1, 2, 3, 6 and 11. No. 9 on Subjectivism has not been published before, nor have most of Nos. 10, 12 and 13. Fuller details of the origins and previous history of all papers are given in the first Note to each item. I would add that though I have sought to eliminate superfluous repetitions, I have not assumed that all readers will read all the papers; so I have occasionally repeated points or quotations from one paper in another paper (or papers) where these may also be highly relevant.


Two items in this volume (Nos. 3 and 7) have appeared before, not as articles in journals, or conference papers, but as chapters of books. This may seem rather unusual. The reprinting of journal articles, however, has now become a major industry. Vast compendia of articles on the major economists, or on particular branches or ‘schools’ of economics, have been produced, which may well be useful to students and researchers. In concentrating so exclusively on journal articles, however, these mammoth collections may be encouraging the neglect of books, which still contain, and will continue to contain, an important part of the literature of many, or most subjects.

I must declare an interest at this point, as one who has published several fairly large books, which have been comprised mainly of separable chapters,

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