Re: [OPE] Sex, Lies, and Economics: The Amazing Story of Economics and Economists Before Adam Smith

Date: Thu Feb 18 2010 - 16:19:43 EST

Hi Gerry, While I certainly would not wish to contest the proposition that the thinking of those of any school of economic thought - classical, neoclassical or whatever - may be influenced by their conditions of life, outlook and culture, my point was simply that the early marginalists approached economic analysis with a specific agenda in mind, that of reconstructing economic theory to make it comparable in nature and status to the physical sciences, and that application of the marginal method (their exciting discovery) was to be the means to that end. I think it is arguable that, in pursuit of that objective, analysts, instead of deriving theory from objective observation of the world around them (in so far as that may be possible) displayed a propensity to shape and model their representations of reality in such a manner as to be amenable to application of the chosen methodology. While the objectivity of any theorist may be compromised by his own
 situation, the marginalist pioneers seem to have been uniquely concerned not simply to elucidate the working of the economy, but to demonstrate that its working could be explained, pretty well exclusively, in terms of a certain principle (optimisation via substitution at the margin) which they had identified as important in a specific context. Cheers, Roy   ________________________________ From: Gerald Levy <> To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <> Sent: Thursday, 18 February, 2010 2:20:28 Subject: Re: [OPE] Sex, Lies, and Economics: The Amazing Story of Economics and Economists Before Adam Smith > Like the classics for whom they provided an analytical basis, and unlike the later marginalists, these pioneers > sought to understand the world around them, rather than to fit it into a preconceived conceptual framework. Hi Roy: I don't know about that:  I think that political economists prior to Smith also had preconceived conceptual frameworks - in their case, based on their world outlook, philosophy, and theology. These were also informed by their class membership and identity -note how their conceptual framework generally dovetailed rather nicely with class interests. In solidarity, Jerry _______________________________________________ ope mailing list

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