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In Hayek's essay, 'The Facts of the Social Sciences,' he mentioned "that one of the best-known modern critics of the discipline has described [economics] as a purely taxonomic science."

Who is he referring to?

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I don't know who all the critics were but one of them was Thorstein Veblen. According to Ghosh (1984)$^1$:

Thorstein Veblen criticized orthodox economic theory of his day on the following counts: that it was teleological, hedonistic and taxonomic


  1. Ghosh, S. K. (1984). On the Validity of Veblen’s Criticisms of Economic Orthodoxy: An Analysis of His Positions in the Light of Current Conditions and Economic Thought. The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 43(2), 235–246. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3486740
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