Dow S (2020) The methodological role of the history of economic thought. In: Marcuzzo MC, Deleplace G & Paesani P (eds.) New Perspectives on Political Economy and its History. Palgrave Studies in the History of Economic Thought. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 21-37. https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030429249
The purpose of this paper is to explore the methodological role of the history of thought in economic theorising. The connection is drawn between Adam Smith’s use of the history of ideas for his own theorising on the one hand and his espousal of the Newtonian experimental method on the other. The history of ideas formed an important part of the evidential base. On this basis, the argument is then developed that study of the history of economic thought contributes to the modern development of theory within a pluralist, open-system approach. Further the significance of different approaches to history itself is highlighted both for understanding Smith and for considering modern debates about the history of thought. The paper is thus offered as further support for the important role for the history of economic thought in economic teaching and practice.
History of Economic Thought; Adam Smith; economic methodology; history