|Title||The William Petty problem and the Whig history of economics|
The term ‘Whig interpretation of history’ was applied by Herbert Butterfield to a particular current within English historiography, an outstanding characteristic of which was its tendency to praise revolutions provided they had been successful, the particular successes to which he referred being those of Protestants and Whigs over Catholics and Tories. He also acknowledged that his critique ‘possibly’ gave the phrase an ‘extended sense’ applicable to any current in historiography characterised by equivalently crude teleology and decontextualisation. It is with reference to this possible ‘extended’ sense that the phrase has gained currency in critical currents within the history of the natural and social sciences. The present case study of the secondary literature on the English writer William Petty (1623–87) argues that, while the two senses are of course conceptually distinct, they are nevertheless very much part of the same story if we are to explain how it has come about that the distortions indicated in the extended sense have become so deeply rooted in the economics mainstream’s portrayal of its own history.
|Journal||Cambridge Journal of Economics|
|Journal citation||38 (3), pp. 563-583|
|Publisher||Oxford University Press|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)||doi:10.1093/cje/bes073|