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Economists usually try to avoid making moral judgements, at least in their professional capacity. Positive economics is seen as a way of analysing economic problems, in as scientific a manner as is possible in human sciences. Economists are often reluctant to be prescriptive, most seeing their task as presenting information on the various options, but leaving the final choice, to the political decision taker. The view of many economists is that politicians can be held responsible for the morality of their actions when making decisions on economic matters, unlike unelected economic advisors, and therefore the latter should limit their role.
The period from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century is commonly associated both with the rise of the European nation state and with the beginning of economics. Samuel…
The period from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century is commonly associated both with the rise of the European nation state and with the beginning of economics. Samuel Clark's concern is only with the rise of the nation state, but is potentially important for understanding the early work on economics as this has often been linked with the rise of nation states. He approaches the problem through a comparative study of the British Isles and France during this period, though with frequent reference to earlier centuries. Even with such a restricted geographical spread, he argues that there was significant diversity in the process.
Alvin Hansen and John Williams’ Fiscal Policy Seminar at Harvard University is widely regarded as a key mechanism for the spread of Keynesianism in the United States. An…
Alvin Hansen and John Williams’ Fiscal Policy Seminar at Harvard University is widely regarded as a key mechanism for the spread of Keynesianism in the United States. An original and regular participant, Richard A. Musgrave was invited to prepare remarks for the fiftieth anniversary of the seminar in 1988. These were never published, though a copy was filed with Musgrave’s papers at Princeton University. Their reproduction here is important for several reasons. First, it is one of the last reminiscences of the original participants. Second, the remarks make an important contribution to our understanding of the Harvard School of macro-fiscal policy. Third, the remarks provide interesting insights into Musgrave’s views on national economic policymaking as well as the intersection between theory and practice. The reminiscence demonstrates the importance of the seminar in shifting Musgrave’s research focus and moving him to a more pragmatic approach to public finance.
In their Foreword, Augullo and Guidi identify the objectives behind the design features of their long-term project. One objective is to study “the history of economics…
In their Foreword, Augullo and Guidi identify the objectives behind the design features of their long-term project. One objective is to study “the history of economics from the viewpoint of the economists’ relationships with the institutional and professional environment.” A second objective is that of comparative methodology, the “systematic and meditated comparison among national cases…so that the interpretive framework of each might be enriched by cross-fertilization.” A third objective is that “economics was rooted in institutional contexts and had itself over time become an institution—a doctrinal corpus of knowledge which permeates and frames the mind of the student body, scholars, professionals and public opinion at large” and to do so “not merely from the canonical standpoint of doctrinal or paradigmatic evolution” (AG, p. xi).