Working Paper BETA #2016-43

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Title : Why German historicists were wrong to put John Stuart through the Mill

Author(s) : Phiilippe Gillig

Abstract : Many German historical economists have denounced classical political economy’s pretension to establish abstract universal laws. This paper seeks to defend John Stuart Mill against this criticism. It argues that, contrary to what these authors alleged, they have a great deal more in common with Mill on this topic than they were willing to realise. In fact, from a methodological as well as a political perspective, their views on relativity regarding both economic laws and the laissez-faire principle are very similar to those of Mill’s.

Key-words : German historical economics, H. Roesler, G. Schmoller, J. S. Mill, natural laws, epistemology, laissez-faire.

JEL Classification : B12; B15; B40