Pareto on the History Of Economic Thought as an Aspect of Experimental Economics

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5) Conclusion

Pareto’s approach to the history of economics has been neglected by historians of economics. Although ‘neglect’ is a very strong term, in this case it is appropriate because Pareto’s views on the history of economics are an important feature of the history of experimental economics. Intellectual historians should consider Pareto’s views on the history of economics for the same reasons that they have considered his choice theory: they are both important aspects of the same issue - the development of an experimental approach to economic theory. The subject is also relevant to historical studies of historiography, although for a negative reason: to consider why Pareto’s approach to the history of economics did not prove influential. Scholars interested in contemporary historiography would also benefit from considering Pareto’s approach to textual exegesis (especially the distinction between intrinsic/asymptotic the extrinsic/non-asymptotic aspects of theories pertaining to the ‘economic’ and the ‘sociological’ parts of the economic phenomenon) because it may complement modern research methods in the history of economics.

Finally, the role that Pareto assigned to the history of economics should not be dismissed. The sociological aspect of the economic phenomenon continues to prove resistant to realistic Cartesian modelling, and in such circumstances, the history of economics may still provide a useful mechanism for developing experimental theory.

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