Discussion Questions on Mill and Robbins
1. What exactly is Mill's "method a priori"?
2. What does Mill mean by an "abstract science"?
3. Why are hot-air balloons not "exceptions" to the law of gravity?
4. Why does Mill think that the method a posteriori has little applicability to economics?
5. Compare Robbins' definition of economics (on the bottom of p. 75) to Mill's. Do they both attempt to define economics in terms of causal factors? What would be included in economics by Mill's definition and excluded by Robbins' definition and vice versa?
6. Does Robbins disagree with Mill's view that the method a posteriori has little applicability to economics? Upon what evidence do the laws of economics depend according to Robbins and Mill? Do they agree? What role does Robbins think that empirical investigation ought to play?
7. Robbins denies that the laws of economics are historical or relative or dependent on psychology. Why? Do you think he is right?
8. Robbins believes that interpersonal utility comparisons are unscientific. Why? Why are interpersonal utility comparisons important?