Development of Economic Analysis

Development of Economic Analysis

Development of Economic Analysis

Development of Economic Analysis

Synopsis

This book traces the development of economic theory from Plato through to contemporary thought. All the major movements are covered and presented here in 6 chronological parts.

Excerpt

When the first edition of Development of Economic Analysis was published in 1967, economists had already established their discipline as 'scientific,' in the mathematical style in which they presented their arguments, which were quite explicitly modeled to become joined to quantitative research. That the new style of economic discussion and communication leaned in this direction was partly a reflection of the influx of mathematicians, physicists and engineers into the profession. It also reflected the shift of focus in the allocation of research funds during the Great Depression, by such well-endowed organizations as the Rockefeller Foundation, toward 'scientific' endeavors. Thus, by the late 1960s the discursive non-mathematical style of textbooks in the history of economic thought made them appear outmoded compared with the increasingly formal presentations in other textbooks that had, by then, become focused on micro- or macroeconomic analysis.

Because there was still a substantial interest in the history of economics, the idea of writing a text that would focus on the development of the analytical tools of economics seemed to offer a vehicle for narrowing the distance between books in economic theory and the traditional book in the history of thought. Accordingly, the first chapter of Development of Economic Analysis posed the question: 'Why was the emergence of economic analysis delayed until the latter part of the eighteenth century, when economic ideas can be traced to the philosophical, legal, religious, ethical and political writings of the scholars of antiquity?' Thus, the chapters that followed were designed to present the emergence of economics as a discipline that was becoming increasingly 'scientific,' partly in consequence of its greater reliance on the tools and perspective of the natural sciences, and because it focused less on the value judgments that characterized the discipline before the days of 'logical positivism.' Lamentably, the preference that professional economists now have for the language of mathematics and empirical testing is, in no small measure, responsible for the present relative neglect of the history of economic ideas, economic history, and institutionally oriented courses in contemporary graduate and undergraduate programs in economics. On the positive side, the history of econometrics and its relation to economic theory has become an important new research area for historians of economic thought. It was for this reason that the fifth edition incorporated a new chapter that articulated the emergence . . .

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