Abstract

Max Weber’s position with regard to the Methodenstreit, the dispute between the Austrians and the historical school over the status of axiomatic-deductive theory within economics, is investigated. I find that while there was much in Carl Menger’s economics with which Weber agreed, his achievement was to provide an improved foundation for the historicist approach. I discuss the important differences between Weber’s approach and the methodology advocated by Ludwig von Mises, the central figure in the later Austrian school. I argue that Weber broadened the scope for economics by integrating the empirical facts of history and the contemporary world, while Mises narrowed it by attempting to establish an economics purified of contingent empirical reality. Finally, I discuss Mises’ influence on Lionel Robbins and Robbins’ contribution to the eclipse of Weber’s methodological insights.

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