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T.M. Knox and the study of economic activity

Connelly, James


James Connelly


James Connelly


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to show how T.M. Knox sought to conceptualise economic activity in the context of his philosophical background and in relation to the analysis of the nature of economics offered by Lionel Robbins. Design/methodology/approach: The paper presents an historical account of the development of Knox's thought, an exposition of his position in relation to that of Robbins and an analysis of the concept of economic activity. Findings: The paper demonstrates the profound differences between an idealist conception of economics and a scientific conception of economics. It also shows the extent to which scientific conceptions are only one among a number of possible conceptions, and that they suffer from deep and perhaps unresolvable ambiguities. Originality/value: Lionel Robbins' work receives a certain amount of attention in the literature on the history of economic thought, whereas contemporary commentary by philosophers such as T.M. Knox is ignored by the histories of economic thought. This paper is unique in bringing the two together and in showing that the debate in the 1930s about the foundations of economics goes beyond the discussions and advocates typically associated with it.


Connelly, J. (2010). T.M. Knox and the study of economic activity. International Journal of Social Economics, 37(11), 880-893.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2010
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal International Journal Of Social Economics
Print ISSN 0306-8293
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 37
Issue 11
Pages 880-893
Keywords Economics and Econometrics; General Social Sciences
Public URL