An inquiry into the philosophic foundations of economic science : with special reference to some of its principal architects : Smith, Marx, Jevons, Marshall and Keynes

Alvey, James E. (1986). An inquiry into the philosophic foundations of economic science : with special reference to some of its principal architects : Smith, Marx, Jevons, Marshall and Keynes Honours Thesis, School of Economics, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Alvey, James E.
Thesis Title An inquiry into the philosophic foundations of economic science : with special reference to some of its principal architects : Smith, Marx, Jevons, Marshall and Keynes
School, Centre or Institute School of Economics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1986
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Total pages 327
Language eng
Subjects 14 Economics
Formatted abstract This dissertation attempts to show two things. Firstly that economics is modelled on the physical sciences and their development was made possible by the break with the ancient view. For the ancients the study of man was directed to his perfection; to moral excellence or virtue for which liberty or freedom served as a means. The modern view concentrated on certain "facts", which were said to apply to all humans. The major "fact" that dominates the classical tradition of Smith, Jevons, and Marshall, was that humans were selfishly motivated, and the best way to allow this 'gravitational' force to manifest itself was in a free market which would ensure the generation of wealth and automatically engender a moral sentiment and perhaps moral habits in men. Morality or 'civilization' was a product of the stage of economic development. Marx rejected selfishness and sought the erection of a selfless communist society. However by indicating that such a society emerges automatically out of the contradictions in capitalism, communist society also presupposed an economy of wealth. Like Smith and his followers, for Marx, there was no room for the ancient view of moral choice, man simply improved mechanically with wealth. Keynes rejected early in life Marx's communism. However his life long 'struggle of escape' from the classical tradition of Smith et al., culminated in his conversion to the view that government must play a major role in regulating the economy if a liberal democracy is to survive. His solution was a significant return to the ancient view of a mixed regime, where the best ruled with the consent of the governed for the benefit of all.

The second aspect of the dissertation was to show that the major theorists except Keynes developed a scientific measure of human motivation, be it "labour commanded value"? homogeneous labour power in the abstract", or "utility" all j of which, under special conditions, were directly proportional to the quantity of money exchanged. The so called "real H analysis was rejected by Keynes and with it the claims of economics to the level of a science. If the ancient view is correct, (and also the 'fundamentalist' interpretation of Keynes) then the model of economics is inappropriate for the study of man.


 
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