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Waging War Against Mechanical Man. Frank H. Knight's Critique of Behavioristic Psychology


Pier Francesco Asso


University of Palermo

Luca Fiorito


University of Siena - Department of Economics; New School University

December 2001

Univ. of Siena Economics Working Paper No. 340

Abstract:     
The major theme of this essay is to explore the rationale of Knight's campaign against the adoption of behaviorism in economics. We also attempt to qualify whether Knight's methodological criticism may somewhat undermine his recently acquired credentials as an institutionalist economist. In so doing we focus our attention in particular, but not exclusively, on his debate with the institutionalist Morris A. Copeland. In the first section we try to explain why behaviorism gained consensus among institutional economists, and we also provide a brief overview of the main behavioristic themes as they were presented in contemporary economic literature. The second section is devoted to Knight's reactions against behaviorism. Our main point here is that Knight's insistence upon the peculiarities of the human subject matter of economics is still worth careful considerations by all those interested in economic methodology. The final section presents a conclusion.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 35

Keywords: Behaviorism, Copeland, Morris A., Institutional Economics, Knight, Frank, Psychology

JEL Classification: A12, B15, B25, B41

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Date posted: May 31, 2002  

Suggested Citation

Asso, Pier Francesco and Fiorito, Luca, Waging War Against Mechanical Man. Frank H. Knight's Critique of Behavioristic Psychology (December 2001). Univ. of Siena Economics Working Paper No. 340. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=314730 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.314730

Contact Information

Pier Francesco Asso (Contact Author)
University of Palermo ( email )
Viale delle Scienza
Palermo, 90128
Italy
Luca Fiorito
University of Siena - Department of Economics ( email )
Piazza S. Francesco, 7
Siena, I-53100
Italy
0577 232620 (Phone)
0577 232661 (Fax)
New School University ( email )
66 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
United States
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