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The Method of Milton Friedman's Practice Was Better Than the Method of His Essay


The method of the Chicago School is often thought to be the method outlined in Friedman's famous essay "The Methodology of Positive Economics." It can be (and has been) persuasively argued that the actual methodology practiced by Friedman is broader, and more eclectic than that advocated in his early essay.

His practice continued to exemplify a kind of empiricism, but it was a kind of empiricism that included, not only 'rigorous' econometrics, but also economic history, case studies, and 'stylized facts.'

I believe that the method of Friedman's practice is sounder than the method of his essay. So it is unfortunate that the Institute founded in Friedman's name will probably only support those who practice the formal method of the essay.

(p. B5) The University of Chicago will announce Thursday that it plans to establish a center for economics honoring the late economist Milton Friedman.

The school plans to raise an endowment of $200 million to support the Milton Friedman Institute.

. . .

. . . his approach to economics embodies what has come to be known as the Chicago School. He defined that as "an approach that insists on the empirical testing of theoretical generalizations and that rejects alike facts without theory and theory without facts."

It is that approach, and the intellectual rigor that Mr. Friedman brought to it, that the Friedman Institute is meant to advocate, rather than any ideology, says Chicago economist Gary Becker, a Nobel Prize-winning former student of Mr. Friedman's who was on the faculty committee that recommended the institute.


For the full story, see:

JUSTIN LAHART. "University Plans Institute to Honor Milton Friedman." The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., May 15, 2008): B5.

(Note: ellipses added.)


The famous Friedman method essay is:

Friedman, Milton. "The Methodology of Positive Economics." In Essays in Positive Economics, 3-43. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953.




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