June 2012

Economics at Chicago, 1939-1955: the scope of our ignorance

The University of Chicago is well-known for as the place where a famous group of economists, including Milton Friedman, Georges Stigler, Gary Becker, among others, developed a method for analyzing economic facts based on Marshallian price theory, a vision of the evolution of macroeconomic aggregates called monetarism, and an approach to individual liberties and the role of the state known as (neo)liberalism. In the recent years, historians of economics have researched more carefully the apparent consistency, the institutionalization and the reasons for the success of this community, highlithing the contested influence of neocon foundations and Read more

Division of labour was common knowledge by the 1770s

I always think of Adam Smith when I hear the term 'division of labour' - but I'm being cured of this by reading a bit more about Britains late 18th century in Jenny Uglow's The Lunar Men. A very good read on industrialists and doctors, it remarks on Matthew Boulton's (think steam engine / manufacturing) explanation to Lord Warwick (in 1773) that it is ithe seperation of processes which allow British manufacturers to compete with continental Europe. So Adam Smith's comments were not so much brilliant discovery, but rather explanation of well established fact: Read more

History of Economics Journals in SSCI - a correction

In a recent post I wrote: "I am sure it will not take long before Journal of the History of Economic Thought (Cambridge Uni. Press) makes that list [Thompson Reuters, Social Science Citation Index]." I was wrong, the journal has made the list. The error is compounded because History of Economic Ideas is also on SSCI. Read more

Between science and history

Last Friday, philosophers from the University of Leiden hosted the symposium ‘Between Science and History,’ in an attempt to figure out what the differences are between practicing scientists’ use of history and historians use of history. The organizers had conjured up the nice experiment of letting a scientist and a historian in one session give a talk on a famous historical figure – Einstein, Darwin, Christiaan Huygens. (Plus there were a few idiosyncratic talks, interesting in other respects, but let me leave those out here.) Read more