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What don't economists know now that Marshall knew a century ago? A note on Marshall's "sophisticated informality"




In the twentieth century, economics was dominated by the idea that rigorous thinking is limited to the natural sciences. This belief has gotten in the way of contemporary economists' understanding of Marshall's legacy. Marshall conceived of economics as a science of complexity. Hence, he considered it essential to take into account the institutional and behavioral peculiarities that often require the close attention to empirical details that the Walrasian approach neglected. Marshall held that the appropriate style for economics to deal with economic complexity should be made of different languages. Classical mathematical language alone cannot grasp the complexity of the real economy by itself, because it plots precisely defined conceptual borders where, in the real world, the borders are uncertain and the concepts ill-defined and unable to be captured in one precise definition.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberto Marchionatti, 2004. "What don't economists know now that Marshall knew a century ago? A note on Marshall's "sophisticated informality"," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(3), pages 441-460.
  • Handle: RePEc:mes:postke:v:26:y:2004:i:3:p:441-460
    DOI: 10.1080/01603477.2004.11051402

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    1. repec:sae:reorpe:v:49:y:2017:i:4:p:633-649 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Mario A. Cedrini & Roberto Marchionatti, 2017. "On the Theoretical and Practical Relevance of the Concept of Gift to the Development of a Non-imperialist Economics," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 49(4), pages 633-649, December.
    3. Garrone Giovanna & Marchionatti Roberto, 2007. "Keynes, statistics and econometrics," CESMEP Working Papers 200703, University of Turin.

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