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Mathematics in economics: Schmoller, Menger and Jevons

Julian Reiss (Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Sciences, London School of Economics, London, UK)

Journal of Economic Studies

ISSN: 0144-3585

Article publication date: 1 August 2000



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.



Reiss, J. (2000), "Mathematics in economics: Schmoller, Menger and Jevons", Journal of Economic Studies, Vol. 27 No. 4/5, pp. 477-491.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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