This essay shows the influence of Max Weber on Frank Knight’s interest in combining economic theory and comparative economic history. In the interwar period –when the teaching of economics had a pluralistic character– Knight opposed institutionalism and defended the scientific status of neoclassical theory, but his readings of Weber Knight led him to regard equilibrium and perfect competition as “ideal types,” constructs useful for theorizing but never observed in reality.They help to identify the central elements, but the study of how they change is not the object of theory. One must then turn to history, in which changes do not resemble equilibria. In the postwar period a new scientific standard appeared, which redefined the discipline and relegated Knight’s work to the non-scientific realm of “social philosophy”.
- Comparative history
- Ideal type
- Neoclassical economics
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)