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Mathematics in economics: Schmoller, Menger and Jevons

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Investigates the economic methodologies of Carl Menger, William Stanley Jevons and Gustav Schmoller with respect to the issue of whether mathematics is or is not an adequate language to express economic relationships. First, Menger’s and Jevons’s respective methodologies are identified as Aristotelian which means, inter alia, that economic properties are real, are naturally related to each other, exist as part of the observable world and can be separated (in thought or otherwise) from other properties. Second, it is shown how this general Aristotelian outlook has very different implications for Menger’s and Jevons’s thinking about mathematics. Third, these two “monogenetic” views are contrasted with Gustav Schmoller’s “polygenetic” approach which holds that a purely deductive economics, based on a small number of self-evident principles, is inadequate for social purposes.

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