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From the ancients to the moderns, questions of economic theory and policy have been an important part of intellectual and public debate, engaging the attention of some of history’s greatest minds. This book brings together readings from more than two thousand years of writings on economic subjects. Through these selections, the reader can see first-hand how the great minds of past grappled with some of the central social and economic issues of their times and, in the process, enhanced our understanding of how economic systems function.

This collection of readings covers the major themes that have preoccupied economic thinkers throughout the ages, including price determination and the underpinnings of the market system, monetary theory and policy, international trade and finance, income distribution, and the appropriate role for government within the economic system. These ideas unfold, develop, and change course over time at the hands of scholars such as Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, François Quesnay, David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Robert Malthus, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, William Stanley Jevons, Alfred Marshall, Irving Fisher, Thorstein Veblen, John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, and Paul Samuelson. Each reading has been selected with a view to both enlightening the reader as to the major contributions of the author in question and to giving the reader a broad view of the development of economic thought and analysis over time.

This book will be useful for students, scholars, and lay people with an interest in the history of economic thought and the history of ideas generally.

Warren J. Samuels Each book in this series explores the present status of its field in terms of where it is, how it got there, the existing tensions within the field, and something of how the field might develop in the future. Each book presumes that work in each field is neither settled nor unequivocal. Each book attempts to comprehend its field as an evolving, developmental process or set or efforts. This particular book, covering neoclassical economics, is the third of three in the field of the History of Economic Thought. The others are Pre-Classical Economic Thought, edited by S. Todd Lowry, and Classical Political Economy, edited by William O. Thweatt. Each one conducts the same kind of analysis as the others in the series, with the understanding that here we are dealing with the history of interpretation, rather than a substantive body of analysis of a certain aspect of the economy: for example, labor or international trade. (That understanding must be com plex and subtle, inasmuch as revision of interpretation of earlier ideas is part of the process-both cause and consequence-of re-analyzing the economy. ) In this group we are interested in how recent and contemporary writers have interpreted the history of economic thought differently, both among themselves and from earlier writers. 1 NEOCLASSICAL ECONOMIC lHEORY 2 Several topics must be discussed to place such work in perspective, in part as it is here applied to the history of the interpretation of neoclassical economics.
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