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Can neoclassical economics be social economics?


  • Ingrid Rima


This retrospective suggests that it is best not to generalize that there is invariably a dichotomy between neoclassical and social economics, but to address the question in terms of individual economic thinkers. Belief in the virtues of the market and concern about identifying determinate optimal equilibrium solutions to problems does not necessarily preclude systematic criticism of the excesses of competition and recommendation of controls in the interest of the social whole. While Alfred Marshall, the founder of the neoclassical tradition, was typically reticent about offering policy prescriptions, this is not the case for his successor, A.C. Pigou. Analogously, there are contemporary thinkers, in particular Ronald Coase and William Baumol, who are neoclassical in their search for optimal free market solutions with full cognizance of the sometimes adverse effects of the price system. But the same claim cannot be made on behalf of “new classicals,” for their research program is to construct artificial or “robot” economic systems based on postulates of market clearing and self interest. Their quest for technical sophistication conceals an inherent ideological anti-policy bias.
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Suggested Citation

  • Ingrid Rima, 1996. "Can neoclassical economics be social economics?," Forum for Social Economics, Springer;The Association for Social Economics, vol. 26(1), pages 5-13, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:fosoec:v:26:y:1996:i:1:p:5-13
    DOI: 10.1007/BF02778861

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Warren Samuels, 1996. "Can neoclassical economics be social economics?," Forum for Social Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(1), pages 1-4, January.
    2. E. Weintraub, 1996. "Can neoclassical economics be social economics? A comment," Forum for Social Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(1), pages 39-40, January.
    3. Dam, Kenneth W, 1974. "The Evolution of North Sea Licensing Policy in Britain and Norway," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 213-263, October.
    4. Veblen, Thorstein, 1900. "The Preconceptions of Economic Science III," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 14.
    5. Blinder, Alan S, 1988. "The Fall and Rise of Keynesian Economics," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 64(187), pages 278-294, December.
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