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Keynes on Atomism and Organicism


  • Davis, John B


This paper examines John Maynard Keynes's early, unpublished paper "Miscellanea Ethica," and concludes that Keynes developed an atomist view of economic agents based on the assumption that the individual mind is an organic unity. The paper argues this view was part of Keynes's subjectivist critique of the realist tenets of G. E. Moore's Principia Ethica, and that Keynes retained this view of the agent in the Treatise on Probability, the biography of F. Y. Edgeworth, the critique of J. Tinbergen, and The General Theory. The paper concludes that the recent literature arguing that Keynes adopted an organicist view of agents in the economy lacks foundation. Copyright 1989 by Royal Economic Society.

Suggested Citation

  • Davis, John B, 1989. "Keynes on Atomism and Organicism," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(398), pages 1159-1172, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:99:y:1989:i:398:p:1159-72

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fagerberg, Jan, 1987. "A technology gap approach to why growth rates differ," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2-4), pages 87-99, August.
    2. Kellman, M, 1983. "Relative Prices and International Competitiveness: An Empirical Investigation," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 8(3-4), pages 125-138.
    3. Anthony P. Thirlwall, 2011. "The Balance of Payments Constraint as an Explanation of International Growth Rate Differences," PSL Quarterly Review, Economia civile, vol. 64(259), pages 429-438.
    4. Ã…dne Cappelen & Nils Petter Gleditsch & Olav Bjerkholt, 1984. "Military Spending and Economic Growth in the OECD Countries," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 21(4), pages 361-373, December.
    5. Smith, R P, 1977. "Military Expenditure and Capitalism," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 61-76, March.
    6. Houthakker, Hendrik S & Magee, Stephen P, 1969. "Income and Price Elasticities in World Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(2), pages 111-125, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Muchlinski, Elke, 2011. "Die Rezeption der John Maynard Keynes Manuskripte von 1904 bis 1911. Anregungen für die deutschsprachige Diskussion," Discussion Papers 2011/7, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    2. Christophe Lavialle, 2001. "L'épistémologie de Keynes et "l'hypothèse Wittgenstein" : La cohérence logique de la Théorie Générale de l'emploi, de l'intérêt et de la monnaie," Cahiers d'Économie Politique, Programme National Persée, vol. 38(1), pages 25-64.

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