skip to content

Faculty of Economics

Journal Cover

Lawson, T.

Whatever Happened to Neoclassical Economics?

Revue de Philosophie Économique

Vol. 22 pp. 39-84 (2021)

Abstract: Proponents of historical epistemology have highlighted how named concepts are amongst the most fundamental features of successful science. Advances in understanding, not least through the development of critically oriented projects, can be significantly boosted by way of key aspects being formed into named concepts, given the attention the latter tend to receive. I focus here on an analytical phenomenon that I believe warrants being rendered the object of a named concept in modern social science. Such a development, I suspect, would work to the benefit of the discipline of modern economics especially. In fact, the phenomenon in question already once was the object of a named concept within economics, and over 100 years ago. It was associated with the label neoclassical economics. The label lived on, as did the phenomenon for which it was, with reason, introduced. But the two, the label and the labelled, parted company, with the former used thereafter mostly incoherently and the latter persisting unarticulated and indeed mostly unrecognised. So, I also explore how all this happened and question whether there is anything to be taken from this history.

Keywords: Historical epistemology, concepts, mathematical economic modelling, heterodox economics, neoclassical economics, Thorstein Veblen, ontology, fundamental (ontological) contradiction

JEL Codes: A12, A14, B00, B12, B13, B15, B23, B25, B40, B41, B49, B50, B59

Author links: Tony Lawson  

Publisher's Link:

Papers and Publications

Recent Publications

Porzio, T., Rossi, F. and Santangelo, G. The Human Side of Structural Transformation American Economic Review [2022]

Elliott, M., Golub, B. and Leduc, M. V. Supply Network Formation and Fragility American Economic Review [2022]

Carneiro, P., Liu, K. and Salvanes, K. G. The Supply of Skill and Endogenous Technical Change: Evidence from a College Expansion Reform Journal of the European Economic Association [2023]

Chen, J., Elliott, M. and Koh, A. Capability Accumulation and Conglomeratization in the Information Age Journal of Economic Theory [2023]