The Economic Mind in America: Essays in the History of American Economics

By Malcolm Rutherford | Go to book overview

NOTES
1
In commenting on the lack of a single coherent statement of Veblen’s system, Walker remarks: “There is no study in the past literature that shows the economic system that Veblen constructed, perhaps because of the difficulty of discerning its outlines in the many pages of his verbose and discursive works. Veblen himself never provided an outline of it, nor even considered it explicitly as a subject” (1977:213-214).
2
One may use Marshall’s admonition that “there has been no real breach of continuity in the development of the science” ([1920] 1979: v) to conclude that he paid only “lip service” to the promise of an evolutionary economics. Alternatively, one could argue as does Veblen that continuity is important to the development of scientific thought (1900:242).
3
The importance of this passage is revealed by Marshall in a letter he wrote to Benjamin Kidd where he states: “thus the brief hint as to my ethical position given in Book IV CH. VIII of my Principles seemed to me to [be] mere Darwinianism” (Whitaker 1996b: 385).
4
Marshall’s desire to do good and his emphasis on ethical values is the theme of Reisman’s (1990) book. As Reisman concludes: “Alfred Marshall, anxious to do good, made it his mission to contribute what little he could to that improvement and that betterment which in his view tended to convert the dismal science of self-centered cost-accounting into the ethical science of hope through change” (1990:265).
5
According to Veblen, “it happens so frequently that it might fairly be said to be the common run that business interests and undertaker’s maneuvers delay consolidation, combination, coordination, for some appreciable time after they have become patently advisable on industrial grounds” ([1901] 1969:300).
6
The role the division of labor plays as an organizing principle is developed in detail in Limoges and Menard (1994).
7
Also, Marshall notes the growing scientization of managers: “for business experts are getting more and more into the habit of writing and reading specialist journals, of holding congresses, and in other ways coming under the judgment of one another. The old thankless task of attempting an improvement which may after all turn out badly, and to which a man’s official superiors and the public at large may be indifferent, assumes a new shape when it is like you to be judged by a critical and appreciative audience who knows the technical difficulties of the problem” ([1897] 1966:308).
8
Gerald Shove hypothesized that the loss of interest in biology stemmed from “the fact that among the natural sciences physics has once more taken over the lead from biological studies” (1942:323).
9
As Marshall remarked: “The only resources we have for dealing with social problems as a whole lie in the judgment of common sense. For the present, and for a long time to come, that must be the final arbiter. Economic theory does not claim to displace it from its supreme authority, nor to interfere with the manner nor even the order of its work, but only to assist it in one part of its work. For common sense does not deal with a complex problem as a whole. Its first step is to break the problem up into its several parts; it then discusses one set of considerations after another, and finally it sums up and gives its conclusions…. Having done its work it [theory] retires and leaves to common sense the responsibility of the ultimate decision; not standing in the way of, or pushing out any other kind of knowledge, not hampering common sense in the use to which it is able to put

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