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Faculty of Economics

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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: https://doi.org/10.3917/rpec.221.0039



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