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W. E. Johnson's 1913 Paper and the Question of his Knowledge of Pareto

  • Moscati, Ivan

In 1913, the Cambridge logician W.E. Johnson published a famous article on demand theory in the Economic Journal. Although Johnson’s treatment of the subject strongly resembles the analysis set forth by Pareto in the Manual of Political Economy, Johnson does not cite the Italian economist. This has aroused a long-standing debate about Johnson’s actual acquaintance with Pareto’s works, but the debated point has never been thoroughly investigated. The present paper addresses the question of Johnson’s knowledgeof Pareto both from an analytical and historical viewpoint, by examining Johnson’s life in the Cambridge environment and his available unpublished papers. Even though the new evidence gathered gives some weight to the thesis that Johnson could not have been unaware of Pareto’s Manual, it cannot exclude the possibility that the logician wrote his paper autonomously.

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal Journal of the History of Economic Thought.

Volume (Year): 27 (2005)
Issue (Month): 03 (September)
Pages: 283-304

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jhisec:v:27:y:2005:i:03:p:283-304_00
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  1. George J. Stigler, 1950. "The Development of Utility Theory. II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 373.
  2. Luigino Bruni, 2002. "Vilfredo Pareto and the Birth of Modern Microeconomics," Books, Edward Elgar, number 2238, 6.
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