Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

Deviations from Methodological Individualism in the Elite theories of J. S. Mill and J. A. Schumpeter

akdere cinla, Assistant professor
Bas Dinar Gulenay, Associate Professor

J. S. Mill and J. A. Schumpeter, on one side, are the pioneers of methodological individualism, which is the basis of their economic theories. On the other side, they have contributed to political science focusing on the role of commercial and governmental elites. Schumpeter creates an analogy between commercial competition and leadership competition where the government people act like entrepreneurs. Whereas Mill is thinking about who to choose to found an elite government. Both theories help us to understand the economic power and the economic role of elites. Also, it is here a kind of rationality has been described. Although, politicans are maximising-public-interest driven individuals, in many cases, they only respect their own personal interests. Does this kind of rationality respect the methodological individualist position of both economists? The subject of this paper is to reveal eventual contradictorinesses between the assertions of both economists’ methodological individualisms and allegements on the behavior of politicans. First, the nature of methodological individualisms of Mill and Schumpeter will defined (1); then the role of politicians in a capitalist system will be put forward in the framework of Mill’s and Schumpeter’s elite theories (2); finally, the consistency between (1) and (2) will be questioned (3).


Keywords: methodological individualism, rationality, elites, liberty, competition.

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