Das Milton Friedman Problem?: A Reassessment of Friedman's Contributions to Economic Methodology

GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 18-08

In Julio H. Cole, ed. UFM Companion to Milton Friedman. Guatemala City: Universidad Francisco Marroquín, Forthcoming

22 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2018 Last revised: 4 Jun 2018

See all articles by Peter J. Boettke

Peter J. Boettke

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Rosolino Candela

Mercatus Center at George Mason University

Date Written: March 18, 2018

Abstract

In terms of economic methodology, Friedman’s most well-known contribution is his 1953 essay, “The Methodology of Positive Economics.” This important contribution has overshadowed his earlier contribution to economic methodology, entitled “Lerner on the Economics of Control” (1947). Whereas Friedman (1953) argued that economic theory can be built upon unrealistic assumptions, ironically, what has been almost forgotten is that Friedman (1947) attacked the theory of market socialism precisely for its unrealistic assumptions. This irony presents an interesting puzzle, which we adjudicate in this essay. We argue that in each case, Friedman was making an immanent critique of his intellectual opponents that was rhetorically consistent, yet methodologically inconsistent. This methodological inconsistency is irreconcilable, since Friedman (1953) contradicts the analysis of Friedman (1947).

Keywords: Milton Friedman; Economic Methodology; Market Socialism

JEL Classification: B31; B41; P1; P26

Suggested Citation

Boettke, Peter J. and Candela, Rosolino, Das Milton Friedman Problem?: A Reassessment of Friedman's Contributions to Economic Methodology (March 18, 2018). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 18-08. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3143133 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3143133

Peter J. Boettke

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-1149 (Phone)
703-993-1133 (Fax)

Rosolino Candela (Contact Author)

Mercatus Center at George Mason University ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

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