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On Jevons's Handling of Differential Equations in the Context of His Principle of Exchange, and the Early Reactions


  • I. Grattan-Guinness


An important part of Jevons's economic theory was his theory of exchange of commodities. For justification he drew upon several aspects of differential equations and their applications, especially a principle in mechanics associated with equilibrium. Unfortunately his use of the principle was faulty. The error is analyzed here, along with his handling of differential equations in general, and the reactions to these aspects of his economic theory made by contemporaries, especially Marshall, Walras, and Edgeworth. These were often critical, though not over his misuse of the mechanical principle!

Suggested Citation

  • I. Grattan-Guinness, 2009. "On Jevons's Handling of Differential Equations in the Context of His Principle of Exchange, and the Early Reactions," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 41(2), pages 297-309, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:41:y:2009:i:2:p:297-309

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard Layard, 2006. "Happiness and Public Policy: a Challenge to the Profession," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages 24-33, March.
    2. Coase, R H, 1976. "Adam Smith's Views of Man," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(3), pages 529-546, October.
    3. N. Emrah Aydinonat, 2006. "Is the Invisible Hand un− Smithian? A Comment on Rothschild," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 2(2), pages 1-9.
    4. Lisa Hill, 2001. "The hidden theology of Adam Smith," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(1), pages 1-29.
    5. A. M. C. Waterman, 2002. "Economics as Theology: Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 907-921, April.
    6. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:2:y:2006:i:2:p:1-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Brewer, Anthony, 1998. "Luxury and Economic Development: David Hume and Adam Smith," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 45(1), pages 78-98, February.
    8. Anthony Brewer, 1997. "An eighteenth-century view of economic development: Hume and Steuart," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(1), pages 1-22.
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