Seligman is an important and ironically somewhat neglected figure today in the history of American economic thought. However, an examination of his scholarly achievements reveals that he had a considerable impact on the development of professional economics in America and could count the most influential economists in Europe as personal friends and collaborators (Moss, 2003; Rutherford, 2004; Mehrotra, 2005). Asso and Fiorito (2006), in their introduction to Seligman's autobiography (1929) argue that ‘his personal influence as an academic economist, as a teacher and as a central figure in the dissemination of economic knowledge was second to none and perhaps more meaningful than any single work he wrote’ (p. 1). They also record (quoting his student, Alvin Johnson) that ‘with Seligman…American economics began to acquire a distinctive professional reputation, some very high scholarly standards and a sort of “moral magnificence”’ (p. 2). What this means is that through Seligman's work and guidance economics came to encompass a moral dimension that fed through into social policies, many of which were adopted by American legislatures. The major influences on his method included the German Historical School and a number of heterodox Continental writers that informed Seligman's in great Whig interpretation of the development of economics. He also engaged critically with the more abstract methods of contemporary economic analysis of the early twentieth century.
Allington, N.F.B. and Thompson, N.W. (2010), "Edwin Robert Anderson Seligman: Champion of the neglected British epigones", Allington, N.F.B. and Thompson, N.W. (Ed.) English, Irish and Subversives among the Dismal Scientists (Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, Vol. 28 Part 2), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 1-35. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0743-4154(2010)000028B004Download as .RIS
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