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Sunday, August 25, 2013

The anti-Ricardians

Perhaps the best place to begin a study of the host of important non- or anti-Ricardian economists in nineteenth century Britain is with the pioneering article that resurrected them from the oblivion in which they had been cast by the triumph of John Stuart Mill: Edwin R.A. Seligman's ‘On Some Neglected British Economists, I’, and ‘On Some Neglected British Economists, IF, in the Economic Journal, 13 (Sept. 1903), especially pp. 347–63, and in Economic Journal, 13 (Dec. 1903), pp. 511–35, reprinted in his Essays on Economics (New York: Macmillan, 1925). Seligman is particularly good on Craig, Longfield, Ramsay and Lloyd. R.C.D. Black's brief but highly important article on the Irish economists is his ‘Trinity College, Dublin, and the Theory of Value, 1832–1863’, Economica, n.s. 12 (August 1945), pp. 140–48. Also see J.G. Smith, ‘Some Nineteenth Century Irish Economists’, Economica, n.s. 2 (Feb. 1935), pp. 20–32. On Richard Whately, see Salim Rashid, ‘Richard Whately and Christian Political Economy at Oxford and Dublin’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 38 (Jan. – March 1977), pp. 147–55. On Whately, Lawson and catallactics, see Israel M. Kirzner, The Economic Point of View (Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand, 1960), pp. 72–5; and Murray N. Rothbard, ‘Catallactics’, The New Palgrave: Dictionary of Economics (London: Macmillan, 1987), I, p. 377.
We are fortunate enough to have some comprehensive works on individual economists of this era. Particularly outstanding is Marian Bowley's Nassau Senior and Classical Economics (1937, New York: A.M. Kelley, 1949; Octagon Books, 1967). Miss Bowley deals not only with Senior but also with many of his confrères. S. Leon Levy's chatty and uncomprehending Nassau W. Senior, 1790–1864 (New York: A.M. Kelley, 1970) provides useful information on Senior's life and genealogical background. Unfortunately, Miss Bowley's later collection of essays accomplishes little, reflecting a falling away from the previously perceptive Austrian position of herself and of her mentor Lord Robbins, and a wish to rejoin the Ricardians in the historiographical mainstream of economic thought. Marian Bowley, Studies in the History of Economic Theory Before 1870 (London: Macmillan, 1973). Also excellent is Robert M. Rauner, Samuel Bailey and the Classical Theory of Value (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1961). Rauner's book, however, unfortunately omits the Austrian orientation of Bailey's philosophy and methodology as expounded in Rauner's preceding doctoral dissertation at the University of London, ‘Samuel Bailey and Classical Economics’ (1956). See Denis P. O'Brien, ‘Critical Reassessments’, in Thweatt (ed.), Classical Political Economy, pp. 199–200. Again, Laurence S. Moss, Mountifort Longfield: Ireland's First Professor of Political Economy (Ottawa, 111: Green Hill Publishers, 1976), has the merit of dealing with other economists of the day in addition to Longfield, and contains an up-to-date bibliography. The definitive work on Colonel Torrens is Lionel Robbins, Robert Torrens and the Evolution of Classical Economics (London: Macmillan, 1958). The important work demonstrating that even the allegedly arch-Ricardian J.R. McCulloch was not really a Ricardian for very long, is Denis P. O'Brien, J.R. McCulloch: A Study in Classical Economics (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1970).
On Nassau Senior's notable exchange on population theory with T. Robert Malthus, see Bowley, Nassau Senior, pp. 117–22; Cannan, History, pp. 133— 4; and Schumpeter, History, pp. 580–81.
Primary sources particularly rich in rewards for the reader are: Samuel Bailey's excellent A Critical Dissertation on the Nature, Measure, and Causes of Value (1825, New York: A.M. Kelley, 1967); Nassau W. Senior's Outline of the Science of Political Economy (1836, New York: A.M. Kelley, 1965); and The Economic Writings of Mountifort Longfield (R.D.C. Black, ed., Clifton, NJ: A.M. Kelley, 1972).
Useful journal articles are Thor W. Bruce, ‘The Economic Theories of John Craig, a Forgotten English Economist’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 52 (August 1938), pp. 697–707; Laurence S. Moss, ‘Isaac Butt and the Early Development of the Marginal Utility Theory of Imputation’, History of Political Economy, 6 (Winter 1974), pp. 405–34; and Richard M. Romano, ‘William Forster Lloyd – a Non-Ricardian?’ History of Political Economy, 9 (Autumn 1977), pp. 412–41. Also on Lloyd, see Emil Kauder, A History of Marginal Utility Theory (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965), pp. 38–41.
On the life of Thomas Perronet Thompson, see the account by Norma H. McMullen, ‘Thomas Perronet Thompson’, in J. Baylen and N. Gossman (eds.), Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals, Vol I: 1770–1830 (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1979), pp. 475–9. For Thompson on rent, see Robbins, Robert Torrens, pp. 43–4; on Thompson's critique of the cost theory of value, see Gordon, ‘Criticism’, p. 374. Also see Schumpeter, History, pp. 672–3, 713–4. On Thompson and the calculus, see Spiegel, Growth, pp. 293–4, 507–08.
The definitive study, biography, and collected works of John Rae (all that are still extant except the bulk of his geological papers), are to be found in R. Warren James's two-volume John Rae: Political Economist (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1965). Also see the discussion of Rae in Joseph Dorfman, The Economic Mind in American Civilization, 1606–1865 (New York: Viking Press, 1946), II, pp. 779–89; and Joseph J. Spengler, ‘John Rae on Economic Development: A Note’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 73 (August 1979), pp. 393–406. The best critique of Rae's New Principles is in Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Capital and Interest, Vol. I History and Critique of Interest Theories (South Holland, 111.: Libertarian Press, 1959), pp. 208–40.
For the isolated and remarkable case of the American subjective utility theorist Amos Kendall, developing his views in his Kentucky newspaper, see the full text of his articles in the Autobiography of Amos Kendall, ed„ W. Stickney (1872, New York: Peter Smith, 1949), pp. 227–36. Also see Murray N. Rothbard, The Panic of 1819: Reactions and Policies (New York: Columbia University Press, 1962), p. 55.
For Nassau Senior, John Stuart Mill, and the early praxeology vs positivism debate, see Marian Bowley, Nassau Senior, pp. 27–65. Also see Rothbard, Individualism, pp. 49–51. For a contrasting view of the debate, see Fritz Machlup, ‘The Universal Bogey’, in M. Peston and B. Corry (eds.), Essays in Honour of Lord Robbins (White Plains, NY: International Arts & Sciences Press, 1973), pp. 99–117. On Dickens's Hard Times and its caricature of economics and utilitarianism, see Ludwig von Mises, Socialism (1922, Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1981), p. 422.

Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought (2 volume set)

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