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Frank P. Ramsey: A Cambridge Economist

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  • Pedro Garcia Duarte

Abstract

Frank Plumpton Ramsey was a Cambridge mathematician who produced profound work in logic, philosophy, mathematics and economics in the first-half of the twentieth century. He died at the age of twenty six, in 1930, and his contributions, despite being few in number, have been bearing fruits since then. Practitioners across those areas share the view that Ramsey was a genius ahead of his time. I explore in this article how Ramsey's image of a genius was created among eminent economists. I then discuss the main point of this essay: whether or not Ramsey may have had a research agenda in economics. His two major articles in this field seem to be unrelated. A common impression from these works and from Ramsey's interaction with other economists is that he was mostly a mathematician who was distracted by economists who from time to time sought his help with certain problems. Here I argue that Ramsey did have an economics research agenda, born out of his close relationship with Arthur Cecil Pigou. I support my thesis mostly with an archival evidence not explored thus far: some notes deposited at the University of Pittsburgh, here published for the first time.

Suggested Citation

  • Pedro Garcia Duarte, 2009. "Frank P. Ramsey: A Cambridge Economist," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 41(3), pages 445-470, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:41:y:2009:i:3:p:445-470
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    Cited by:

    1. Pedro Garcia Duarte, 2013. "A Path Through the Wilderness: Time Discounting in Growth Models," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2013_18, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    2. Karen Knight & Michael McLure, 2012. "The Elusive Arthur Pigou," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 12-05, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    3. Pedro Garcia Duarte & Kevin D. Hoover, 2012. "Observing Shocks," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 44(5), pages 226-249, Supplemen.
    4. Pedro Garcia Duarte, 2014. "Frank Ramsey," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2014_17, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).

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