The examination of economics from the standpoint of language and literature, part of the “linguistic turn” in economic methodology, may be extended and inverted by setting the literary elements of economics in historical perspective. In so doing, it will emerge that in the formative period of classical economics, when the line between the literary and the scientific was blurred, there was an affinity between economics and new forms of literature, especially the novel, that helped shape the characteristic method of economics as “plausible conjecture.” Through plausible conjecture, fictions, as thought-experiments or models, are used to capture and depict essential elements of economic reality. This approach is evident in the work of François Quesnay and central to that of Adam Smith, setting the mold for later economic thinkers.
Skip Nav Destination
Michael H. Turk; Economics as Plausible Conjecture. History of Political Economy 1 September 2010; 42 (3): 521–546. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182702-2010-024
Download citation file: