The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • Daniel R. Fusfeld
Reference work entry


The ‘battle of methods’ between Carl Menger (1840–1921) and Gustav Schmoller (1838–1917) is one of the most important methodological debates in the history of economics. It began with the publication of Menger’s book on method (1883), which made the case for pure theory based on assumptions about behaviour and antecedent conditions. Schmoller responded with a strongly worded review (1883) that argued for principles of economics based on empirical historical data and the inductive method. Menger answered with an equally vehement statement of The Errors of Historicism (1884). The infuriated Schmoller refused even to read it (Schmoller 1884). A torrent of books and papers by others followed over the next several decades. The best summary of the entire controversy is Ritzel (1951).


Hobson, J. A. Institutional economics Menger, C. Methodenstreit Methodology of economics Schmoller, G. von Veblen, T. 

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  1. Menger, K. 1883. Untersuchungen über die Methode der Sozialwissenschaften, und der politischen Oekonomie insbesondere. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot. Ed. L. Schneider and trans. F.J. Nock as Problems of economics and sociology, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1963.Google Scholar
  2. Menger, K. 1884. Die Irrthümer des Historismus in der deutschen Nationalökonomie. Vienna: Alfred Hölder.Google Scholar
  3. Ritzel, G. 1951. Schmoller versus Menger. Offenbach: Bollwerk-Verlag.Google Scholar
  4. von Schmoller, G. 1883. Zur Methodologie der Staats- und Sozialwissenschaften. Jahrbuch für Gesetzgebung, Verwaltung und Volkswirtschaft im deutschen Reich 8: 974–994.Google Scholar
  5. von Schmoller, G. 1884. Jahrbuch für Gesetzgebung, Verwaltung und Volkwirtschaft in deutschen Reich, 677.Google Scholar
  6. von Schmoller, G. 1900–4. Grundriss der allgemeinen Volkswirtschaftslehre. Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot.Google Scholar

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel R. Fusfeld
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