Das Turgot Problem. The Method of Economics

Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Working Paper ECON 16.03

20 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2016

Date Written: October 27, 2015


This paper examines A.R.J. Turgot’s explanation of the scope and method of economic science. We begin by highlighting two contradictory economic methodologies in Turgot’s writings according to the literature: one in his text on progress and another in his papers on concrete economic matters. An initial hypothesis in this paper holds that this ‘contradiction’ does not exist. To do so, we shall use his texts on scientific methodology, history of science and epistemology, mainly written during the decade of the fifties. The argument is that his taxonomy of sciences explains that the different methodologies observed by the literature, depending on the discipline, are the forms that the unit of science can take in each stage of the progress of the human spirit. A corollary to this hypothesis is that Turgot’s multi-disciplinary works describe a scene of the birth of economic science that is very removed from the political arena. Both debates on types of knowledge, the independence of disciplines, the specialized language and the association of authors are better explained from the sociology of science than from the history of political thought.

Keywords: Turgot, History of Economic Thought, History of Science, Enlightenment, and Economic Methodology

JEL Classification: B31, B10, Z13, B11, B41

Suggested Citation

Menudo, José Manuel, Das Turgot Problem. The Method of Economics (October 27, 2015). Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Working Paper ECON 16.03, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2729184 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2729184

José Manuel Menudo (Contact Author)

Universidad Pablo de Olavide ( email )

Carr. Utrera km 1
Seville 41013

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