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History of Economic Thought as an Intellectual Discipline

D.P. O’Brien, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Durham, UK
This book restates the importance of the study of the history of ideas, in the context of the writings of economists. After an initial statement, a case study involving five methodological detours is considered. This is followed by an analysis of a flawed attempt to remedy the manifest deficiencies of the static general equilibrium model. A general overview of classical economics is followed by an account of the world of Alfred Marshall who did so much to bridge the gap between classical and neo-classical economics. The work of two great historians of economics, Edwin Cannan and J.R. McCulloch, is discussed, as well as that of Paul Samuelson who while a leading theorist has defied the narrow essentialism now fashionable, and remained a scholar. There are also three chapters dealing with one of the most learned writers on economics, Friedrich Hayek.
Extent: 448 pp
Hardback Price: $183.00 Web: $164.70
Publication Date: 2007
ISBN: 978 1 84720 259 8
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Economic History
  • History of Economic Thought
This book restates the importance of the study of the history of ideas, in the context of the writings of economists. After an initial statement, a case study involving five methodological detours is considered. This is followed by an analysis of a flawed attempt to remedy the manifest deficiencies of the static general equilibrium model. A general overview of classical economics is followed by an account of the world of Alfred Marshall who did so much to bridge the gap between classical and neo-classical economics. The work of two great historians of economics, Edwin Cannan and J.R. McCulloch, is discussed, as well as that of Paul Samuelson who while a leading theorist has defied the narrow essentialism now fashionable, and remained a scholar. There are also three chapters dealing with one of the most learned writers on economics, Friedrich Hayek.

Illustrated by discussions of methodological and historical issues, the book will be essential reading for economists, researchers and students of the history of economic thought.
‘O’Brien is an exemplary economist, being at the forefront of the senior generation of economists who have made seminal contributions to the history of thought as part of a broader career in economics, in his case with important papers on customs union theory and industrial economics.’
– Roger Middleton, Journal of the History of Economic Thought
Contents: Preface Part I: Introduction 1. Introduction Part II: Methodology 2. History of Economic Thought as an Intellectual Discipline 3. Five Methodological Detours 4. Information and Investment in a Wider Context Part III: History of Economic Thought 5. Classical Economics: An Overview 6. Marshall’s World in His Correspondence 7. Cannan: Theory and the History of Economic Thought 8. Friedrich August von Hayek 9. Hayek: The Union of Law and Economics 10. Hayek in the History of Economic Thought 11. McCulloch and the Literature of Economics 12. Samuelson: The Theorist as Historian of Economic Thought Bibliography Index