Equilibrium and time: Marshall's dilemma

Journal of Economic Methodology 3 (2):285-306 (1996)
Abstract
The neglect and misinterpretation of Marshall's treatment of time led many of his followers and critics to overlook the significance of the qualifications and criticisms of equilibrium analysis in his Principles. This misinterpretation arises from a failure to fully understand the purpose and method of Marshall's analysis. Marshall's methodological struggles in Principles did not arise from an attempt to preserve the concept of competitive equilibrium in a world where increasing returns are pervasive. Rather, they emanated from an attempt at providing analytical tools capable of contributing to an understanding of the process of economic development that is continuous in time. Marshall was unable to resolve the conflict arising from ?biological? and ?mechanical? representations of such processes. The later critics of Marshall developed their analysis in terms of comparative static analysis of competitive equilibrium positions. The element of time had no role to play in such a setting.
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