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Hayek's ChallengeAn Intellectual Biography of F.A. Hayek$
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Bruce Caldwell

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780226091914

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226091921.001.0001

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The Methodenstreit

The Methodenstreit

(p.64) Chapter 3 The Methodenstreit
Hayek's Challenge

Bruce Caldwell

University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses the Methodenstreit, the battle over methods between Carl Menger and Gustav Schmoller. It begins with an examination of the book that began the conflict, Menger's Investigations into the Method of the Social Sciences. Menger's major goal was to show that, despite Schmoller's assertions to the contrary, a theoretical approach to the investigation of social phenomena is, indeed, possible. It shows that, although certain aspects of his defense of theory involved principles that are widely accepted today, other parts raised questions that would occupy many subsequent generations of students of methodology. Looking further into the book, the chapter identifies issues that reemerge in the debates that Hayek would have with opponents a half century later. Once the study of the Investigations is complete, it describes and reflects on the polemical battle that followed. Although Joseph Schumpeter's assessment that the conflict was a “history of wasted energies” has much truth to it, the struggle had important consequences for the development of both the German historical and the Austrian schools, at the time as well as in subsequent decades.

Keywords:   Carl Menger, Gustav Schmoller, Investigations, social phenomena

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