Waging War Against Mechanical Man. Frank H. Knight's Critique of Behavioristic Psychology
Univ. of Siena Economics Working Paper No. 340
35 Pages Posted: 31 May 2002
Date Written: December 2001
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.
Keywords: Behaviorism, Copeland, Morris A., Institutional Economics, Knight, Frank, Psychology
JEL Classification: A12, B15, B25, B41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation