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Frank P. Ramsey: A Cambridge Economist

  • Pedro Garcia Duarte

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.

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Article provided by Duke University Press in its journal History of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 41 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (Fall)
Pages: 445-470

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Handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:41:y:2009:i:3:p:445-470
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