Durkheim on empiricism and economics

From 1938:

“The famous law of supply and demand for example, has never been inductively established, as should be the case with a law referring to economic reality. No experiment or systematic comparison has ever been undertaken for the purpose of establishing that in fact economic relations do conform to this law. All that these economists do, and actually did do, was to demonstrate by dialectics that, in order properly to promote their interests, individuals ought to proceed according to this law, and that every other line of action would be harmful to those who engage in it and would imply a serious error of judgement. It is fair and logical that the most productive industries should be the most attractive and that the holders of the products most in demand and most secure should sell them at the highest prices. But this quite logical necessity resembles in no way the true laws of nature present. The latter express the regulations according to which facts are really interconnected, not the way in which it is good that they should be interconnected.”

The Rules of Sociological Method, p. 26. Via Max Weber: The Interpretation of Social Reality, p. 18.

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