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"Facts Carefully Marshalled" in the Empirical Studies of William Stanley Jevons

"Facts Carefully Marshalled" in the Empirical Studies of William Stanley Jevons “Facts Carefully Marshalled” be treated as “balancing” in the drawing of a mean (340), so that, for instance, the general variation of prices might be attributed to a single cause, the gold influx ([1865] 1884, 120). Early proponents of statistical analysis, as opposed to those who used statistics for mere description, faced a major problem: they did not possess statistical measures of causal association (namely, measures of correlation). Nor did they have formal models to show how multiple causes might link in complex ways. Instead they relied on the analysis of tables and the taking of various kinds of averages to identify genuine causal relationships in their nonexperimental data (McKim 1997, 4; Morgan 1997, 74; 1990, 4; Klein 1997, chaps. 4 and 5). Although Jevons was well aware of the complexity of social and economic phenomena, he downplayed this complexity when he measured economic phenomena and presumed the existence of simple causal frameworks. There was also, as we shall see, continuing resistance to the sort of formal modeling that would be adequate for complex causal relationships. In order to situate Jevons’s measurements in the context of contemporary work, we shall consider contemporary reactions to his measurements. It is http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Political Economy Duke University Press

"Facts Carefully Marshalled" in the Empirical Studies of William Stanley Jevons

History of Political Economy , Volume 33 (Suppl 1) – Jan 1, 2001

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2001 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0018-2702
eISSN
1527-1919
DOI
10.1215/00182702-33-Suppl_1-252
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

“Facts Carefully Marshalled” be treated as “balancing” in the drawing of a mean (340), so that, for instance, the general variation of prices might be attributed to a single cause, the gold influx ([1865] 1884, 120). Early proponents of statistical analysis, as opposed to those who used statistics for mere description, faced a major problem: they did not possess statistical measures of causal association (namely, measures of correlation). Nor did they have formal models to show how multiple causes might link in complex ways. Instead they relied on the analysis of tables and the taking of various kinds of averages to identify genuine causal relationships in their nonexperimental data (McKim 1997, 4; Morgan 1997, 74; 1990, 4; Klein 1997, chaps. 4 and 5). Although Jevons was well aware of the complexity of social and economic phenomena, he downplayed this complexity when he measured economic phenomena and presumed the existence of simple causal frameworks. There was also, as we shall see, continuing resistance to the sort of formal modeling that would be adequate for complex causal relationships. In order to situate Jevons’s measurements in the context of contemporary work, we shall consider contemporary reactions to his measurements. It is

Journal

History of Political EconomyDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2001

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