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The General Impossibility of Neoclassical Economics


  • Ben Fine

    () (Department of Economics, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London)


This article recalls how neo-classical economics prides itself both on its mathematical rigour and on the universal applicability of its principles, and how, on this basis, “economics imperialism” is colonising the subject matter of the other social sciences. Critics of the mainstream have emphasised the conceptual and theoretical weaknesses of reliance upon axiomatic deductivism and methodological individualism of a special type, as well as denying the image that the mainstream has of itself as emulating the natural sciences. In a complementary critique, this article demonstrates, by drawing upon Russell’s logical paradoxes, how results from within mathematics itself, as opposed to its application, impose unnoticed limitations upon the scope and consistency of the mainstream.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben Fine, 2011. "The General Impossibility of Neoclassical Economics," Ensayos Revista de Economia, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Facultad de Economia, vol. 0(1), pages 1-22, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:ere:journl:v:xxx:y:2011:i:1:p:1-22

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    Cited by:

    1. Ben Fine, 2013. "Economics - Unfit for purpose: The Director's Cut," Working Papers 176, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK.

    More about this item


    individualism; holism; mathematical foundations;

    JEL classification:

    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology


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