The uniformity of nature
what purpose does it serve?
In the third section of his paper "Inductivism in 19th Century Economics' Karl Milford presents us with a useful résumé of the impact of methodological con-siderations, especially amongst economists in the German-speaking world, on more properly economic problems, especially the development of price theory. It is interesting to learn from his report how diverse were the various approaches, both axiologically and methodologically. Each combination of objectivism or subjectivism with individualism or collectivism had distinguished representa-tives: the objectivism with regard to values of Smith and Marx contradicted the subjectivism of Hufeland and Roscher, while the individualism of Smith and Hufeland contradicted the collectivism of Marx and Roscher (p. 10). As Milford tells the story (p. 285), it was only with publication of Menger's Grundsätze in 1871, and his Untersuchungen in 1883, that the combination of subjectivism and individualism espoused by Hufeland finally attained a dominant position. The success of Menger's approach seems to be attributable on the one side to the per-sistent inability of objectivist theories of values and prices to explain adequately the activity of the market; and on the methodological side, to his devastating attack on some aspects of the naively unaffected inductivism underlying most collectivist thinking (for example, the thinking of Roscher). In fact Menger too was an inductivist who, in response to Hume's attack on all modes of content-increasing inference, introduced and defended an a priori principle of induction.
Full citation [Harvard style]:
Miller, D.J. (2004)., The uniformity of nature: what purpose does it serve?, in F. Stadler (ed.), Induction and deduction in the sciences, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 293-297.
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