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"'A Certain Amount of "Recantation"': On the Origins of Frank H. Knight's Antipositivism," by Luca Fiorito. The aim of this article is to investigate in some detail the origins of Frank H. Knight's antipositivism and to assess the main influences that brought him to a change in methodological perspective after 1921. As importantly, the article also attempts to increase our general understanding of the methodological debates taking place during the early decades of the last century and to shed new light on the inherently pluralistic character of US interwar economics. The first section outlines Knight's methodological views as presented in his early works; the second section discusses Knight's “recantation” and his attack on behavioristic social science; the third section analyzes Knight's discussion of the nature and limitations of scientific economics; the fourth section offers a brief digression on Knight's relationship with American institutionalism; the fifth section deals with the later developments of Knight's antipositivism; the final section presents some conclusions.
"The Use (and Abuse) of Robinson Crusoe in Neoclassical Economics," by Fritz Soellner. Robinson Crusoe stories were and are extensively used in neoclassical economics. The behavior of neoclassical Robinson Crusoe, however, is at odds both with that of Defoe's hero, the original Robinson Crusoe, and that of real-world castaways. Only the early neoclassicals can be criticized for these contradictions because they intended to explain the behavior of their isolated individuals, whereas modern neoclassicals only seek to describe the decisions of Robinson Crusoe in terms of modern choice theory. This contrast mirrors the change in the way utility theory is conceived—no longer as a means to explain behavior but only as a means to describe it. It is argued that Robinson Crusoe and homo economicus are closely related and that, therefore, the Robinson Crusoe stories afford insights into the development of neoclassical economics and the problems resulting from its reliance upon the isolated-individual paradigm.
"The Other Correspondence of T. R. Malthus: A Preliminary List and Selected Commentary," by John Pullen. The extensive correspondence between T. R. Malthus and David Ricardo has been documented in The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, edited by P. Sraffa (1951–73). Malthus conducted an even more extensive correspondence with correspondents other than Ricardo. The dates of this other correspondence and the names of the correspondents are listed—seventy-six have so far been identified, with a further four unnamed—together with the known locations of the originals and known published versions. The article includes a commentary on a selection of themes from the correspondence.
"The Emergence of 'Emergence' in the Work of F. A. Hayek: A Historical Analysis," by Paul Lewis. This article identifies the sources on which Friedrich Hayek drew in order to develop his understanding of the notion of emergence. It is widely acknowledged that the notion of emergence plays a significant role in Hayek's analyses of both the mind and the market. In Hayek's account, the key capacities of the human mind—such as its capacity to enable people to perceive the world around them and to form plans about how to act—are emergent properties of the structured array of neurons found in the human brain. Analogously, Hayek's analysis of the market portrays the coordinative powers of the price mechanism as an emergent property of the social system that is formed when people's (inter)actions are governed by a set of norms that includes both the formal rules of property and tort and contract law, and also informal norms of honesty and promise keeping. However, while several scholars have identified the importance of the notion of emergence in Hayek's thought, none have explored systematically and in detail the sources from which he acquired his knowledge of the concept. This article remedies that omission by examining the history of Hayek's use of the concept of emergence and identifying the sources through which notions of emergence and “emergent properties” entered his thinking. It is argued that the three main sources of influence are as follows: the ideas of the German psychologist Wilhelm Wundt; the work of members of the gestalt school of psychology; and the writings of the organicist biologists Joseph Woodger and Ludwig von Bertalanffy. The significance of the article's findings for those interested in the development of Hayek's economics is also discussed.
"F. A. Hayek and the Economic Calculus," by Bruce Caldwell. This article offers a revisionist account of certain episodes in the development of F. A. Hayek's thought. It offers a new reading of his 1937 paper, “Economics and Knowledge,” that draws on unpublished lecture notes in which he articulated more fully the distinctions he made in the paper between a “pure logic of choice,” or the economic calculus, and an “empirical element,” which he would later call the competitive market order. Next, the essay shows that Hayek continued to try to develop his ideas about the role of the economic calculus through the 1950s and early 1960s, an effort that has been missed because it never led to any published work. Finally, the article examines Hayek's attempt to articulate a theory of the market process, one that would be at the same level of generality as the economic calculus, in lectures he gave at the University of Virginia. He never developed a full-fledged formal theory, but his failed efforts still bore fruit in leading him to his contributions on spontaneous orders and the (verbal) theory of complex phenomena. This work anticipated contributions by others who were more technically trained.