This book is an examination of the nature of economic explanation. The opening chapters introduce current thinking in the philosophy of science and review the literature on methodology. Professor Blaug then turns to the troublesome question of the logical status of welfare economics, giving the reader an understanding of the outstanding issues in the methodology of economics. This is followed by a series of case studies of leading economic controversies, which shows how controversies in economics may be illuminated by paying (...) attention to questions of methodology. A final chapter draws the strands together and gives the author's view of what is wrong with modern economics. This book is a revised and updated edition of a classic work on the methodology of economics, in which Professor Blaug develops his discussion of the latest developments in macroeconomics, general equilibrium theory and international trade theory. A new section on the rationality postulate is also added. (shrink)
Papers produced for a conference of economists, economic methodologists and historians of economics, convened to reflect on the question of whether MSRP - the methodology of scientific research programmes - has proved useful in the light of 20 years' experience.
This is a history of economic thought from Adam Smith to John Maynard Keynes - but it is a history with a difference. Firstly, it is a history of economic theory, not of economic doctrines, that is, it is consistently focused on theoretical analysis, undiluted by entertaining historical digressions or biological colouring. Secondly, it includes detailed Reader's Guides to nine of the major texts of economics, namely the works of Smith, Ricardo, Mill, Marx, Marshall, Wickstead, Wicksell, Walras and Keynes, in (...) the effort to encourage students to become acquainted at first hand with the writings of all the great economists. This fifth edition, first published in 1997, adds new Reader's Guides to Walras's Elements of Pure Economics and Keynes' General Theory to the previous seven Reader's Guides of other great books in economics. There are significant and major additions to six chapters. (shrink)
The central argument of this interesting paper is that Popper appears to be inconsistent: on the one hand, he preaches methodological monism-scientific method in the social sciences is identical to scientific method in the natural sciences-and on the other hand he advocates “situational analysis” as the unique method of the social sciences. Situational analysis is nothing but our old neoclassical friend, the rationality principle-individual maximizing behavior subject to constraints-and thus, Popper seems to be saying, neoclassical economics is the only valid (...) kind of social science. (shrink)
David Hume is best known for his work on political philosophy. However, he wrote a series of essays on money, population and international trade which must rank among the major economic writings of the 18th century. Certainly they influenced Adam Smith and have a sparkling quality that still makes them worth reading today. His statement of the so-called 'specie-flow mechanism' constituted his answer to the mercantilist concern with the maintenance of a chronic surplus in the balance of payments. He also (...) put forward what is now known as the 'theory of creeping inflation' and advocated the notion that political freedom flows from economic freedom. James Steuart was a British mercantilist, the last in a long line stretching back to the 16th century. He advocated the entire armoury of mercantilist policies: the regulation of foreign trade to induce an inflow of gold, the promotion of industry by inducing cheap raw material imports, protective duties on imported manufactured goods, encouragement of exports, particularly finished goods because they are labour-intensive, control of the size of population by emigration and immigration to keep wages low, all capped by a denial of Hume's argument that an inflow of gold will only raise prices and thus drive gold abroad. (shrink)
Whether or not we reject the Marxist schema there is little doubt that Marx was a great economist. The three volumes of Capital, contain some pieces of remarkable economic analysis from which modern economists can still learn; however difficult he is to read, there are moments when, like Ricardo and Walras, he can revel in the abstract power of economic reasoning.
Thomas Aquinas is generally acknowledged to be the greatest theologian of the Middle Ages and his masterpiece, 'Summa Theologica', provides a complete and authoritative statement of medieval economic thought that has remained the official Catholic view right up to the present time. St Thomas had a decisive influence on economic thought in at least three broad areas: the theory of private property, the theory of the just price and the doctrine of usury. St Thomas's great contribution to economic thought, as (...) to theology, moral philosophy, and politics, lies in his emphasis on ratiocination on the Greek ideal of accepting nothing unless good reasons can be given for it. (shrink)
This volume presents critical writings on the work of the later mercantilists. Sir Josiah Child was elected a governor of the East India Company in 1681. His reputation as an economist rests on his book 'A New Discourse of Trade' published in 1693. His work stimulated a wide range of discussion of such topics as interest rates, population, wage policy, poor relief and colonization. Despite many liberal elements in his thinking, he was a typical Mercantilist in his preference for administrative (...) solutions to economic problems. John Locke, best known for his work on political philosophy, made a major contribution to the debate on the rate of interest in his essay 'Some Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest and Raising the Value of Money' (1692). The central theme of that pamphlet was that the rate of interest, being the price for the hire of money, is determined by the demand for and supply of money, which Parliament is powerless to affect. Locke's other major contribution to economic thought was the so called labour theory of private property contained in the 'Two Treaties on Government' (1690), a classic in the history of political philosophy. (shrink)
This thought-provoking book discusses the concept of progress in economics and investigates whether any advance has been made in its different spheres of research. The authors look back at the history, successes and failures of their respective fields and thoroughly examine the notion of progress from an epistemological and methodological perspective. The idea of progress is particularly significant as the authors regard it as an essentially contested concept which can be defined in many ways – theoretically or empirically; locally or (...) globally; or as encouraging or impeding the existence of other research traditions. The authors discuss the idea that for progress to make any sense there must be an accumulation of knowledge built up over time rather than the replacement of ideas by each successive generation. Accordingly, they are not concerned with estimating the price of progress, reminiscing in the past, or assessing what has been lost. Instead they apply the complex mechanisms and machinery of the discipline to sub-fields such as normative economics, monetary economics, trade and location theory, Austrian economics and classical economics to critically assess whether progress has been made in these areas of research. -/- Bringing together authoritative and wide-ranging contributions by leading scholars, this book will challenge and engage those interested in philosophy, economic methodology and the history of economic thought. It will also appeal to economists in general who are interested in the advancement of their profession. (shrink)
F. A. Hayek's contributions to a variety of disciplines were decisively influenced by his career as an economist, running from early work in capital theory and business cycles to the economics of socialism and neo‐Austrian theories of competition. After reviewing his battle with Keynesian economics, this essay examines the socialist calculation debate, which altered Hayek's views of the central task of economics and led to a definite but disguised break with the views of Ludwig von Mises; and discusses the issue (...) of what, if anything, economics can predict, an area Hayek never thoroughly explored. An air of uncertainty therefore continues to hang over many of his fundamental ideas. (shrink)
Aristotle has rightly been called a 'universal genius'. Whilst his work in economics was not fundamental, it has nevertheless attracted an enormous literature. This is particularly true of some passages in his 'Politics' on the 'Natural' and 'Unnatural' modes of acquiring wealth and some pages in his 'Nicomachean Ethics' on the question of justice in exchange. Aristotle's views on the practice of usury and the doctrine of 'just price' have been heatedly debated from the Middle Ages to the present day.
In Great Economists before Keynes, a chronological guide is included for readers wishing to trace the development of economic thought from early mercantilist writings to the pivotal work of John Maynard Keynes. Each article briefly discusses the life and enduring contributions of economists such as Adam Smith, Alfred Marshall, David Ricardo, and Leon Walras. Wherever possible, portraits accompany the text. Mark Blaug is Emeritus Professor of the Economics of Education at the University of London Institute of Education, and Consultant Professor (...) at the University of Buckingham. He is the author of numerous articles and books in the field of economics and economic history, including Economic Theory in Retrospect, an established classic in the field. (shrink)