Contra-Whig History of Economic Ideas and the Problem of the Endogenous Past

Cambridge Journal of Economics, Forthcoming

26 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2010 Last revised: 8 Oct 2013

See all articles by Peter J. Boettke

Peter J. Boettke

George Mason University - Department of Economics; Mercatus Center at George Mason University

Peter T. Leeson

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Christopher J. Coyne

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: October 1, 2010

Abstract

This paper provides a critical challenge to the Whig view of economic ideas which hold that good ideas from the past are embodied in the common scientific wisdom. In contrast to this position, we contend that the market for ideas, while no doubt competitive in terms of scientific rivalry, is not free of distortions in the incentives and signals that guide economic scientists. As a result, ideas which are flawed can come to dominate the profession, while useful ideas are left on the proverbial side-walk of intellectual affairs. The smooth evolution of economic thought from falsehood to truth that underlies the Whig perspective is complicated by both historical circumstances and the intimate relationship between economics and politics that follows from the attraction of public policy for those who enter the discipline.

Keywords: Whig theory, endogenous past, extended present

JEL Classification: B10, B20, B50

Suggested Citation

Boettke, Peter J. and Leeson, Peter T. and Coyne, Christopher J., Contra-Whig History of Economic Ideas and the Problem of the Endogenous Past (October 1, 2010). Cambridge Journal of Economics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1686134 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1686134

Peter J. Boettke (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Peter T. Leeson

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.peterleeson.com

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://ppe.mercatus.org/scholars/peter-leeson

Christopher J. Coyne

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.ccoyne.com/

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

HOME PAGE: http://ppe.mercatus.org/scholars/christopher-coyne

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