Historians of economic thought who try to connect Ricardo's method with a philosophy generally focus on associationism and pay no attention to Dugald Stewart's influence. In point of fact, Ricardo's method can be connected with Stewart's teaching through his connection with James Mill and Francis Horner. Moreover, the difference between practical and scientific knowledge which is, according Stewart, a difference in the use of abstraction, coincides with Ricardo's distinction between questions of facts and of principles. This connection, which appears in Ricardo's work, brings into question the common view of Ricardo's method as a hypothetical one and leads to consider the role of abstraction as a crucial one.

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