The epistemological debate between Luigi Einaudi and Mauro Fasiani is discussed herein by considering not only the essays published in journals, but also the private letters of the two discussants, notably Fasiani’s recently discovered unsent correspondence. Revisiting the entire discussion is of considerable interest for understanding the history of economic thought, not to mention the current relevance of the arguments raised, which relate to the different perspectives by which science may be considered and to the different answers to problems such as the cognitive capability of economic science and the relationship among science, value judg ments, and economic policies. The debate allows us to infer that in those years, Einaudi did not believe the theory of public finance to be independent of economic science, concluding that the Italian tradition was essentially over. On the contrary, Fasiani believed in the autonomy of the theory of public finance, and was the last scholar still working to build a unifying design covering the entire set of public interventions in the economy.
Keywords: Italian tradition in public finance; Mauro Fasiani; Luigi Einaudi; epistemology and economic science.
Jel Code: B13, B2, B31, B41, H1, H2