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Why is this ‘school’ called neoclassical economics? Classicism and neoclassicism in historical context

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  • Nuno Ornelas Martins

    () (Centro de Estudos em Gestão e Economia da Universidade Católica Portuguesa)

Abstract

This article addresses the origins of the term “neoclassical” economics, and the subsequent use of the term. It is argued that the present use of the term “neoclassical” economics is different from its original meaning when it was first introduced by Thorstein Veblen, who used it to denote a methodological inconsistency between vision and method, as Tony Lawson argues. I also argue here that the original meaning of the term, and its present use, are both contradictory with the original meaning of “classical political economy”. In fact, if we follow the original meaning of the term “classical political economy”, as a surplus approach concerned with the reproduction and distribution of the economic surplus, we find that many of those who are critical of “neoclassical economics” are actually in line with the classical perspective, to the extent that they also develop a surplus approach.

Suggested Citation

  • Nuno Ornelas Martins, 2015. "Why is this ‘school’ called neoclassical economics? Classicism and neoclassicism in historical context," Working Papers de Economia (Economics Working Papers) 01, Católica Porto Business School, Universidade Católica Portuguesa.
  • Handle: RePEc:cap:wpaper:012015
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    File URL: http://www.feg.porto.ucp.pt/docentes/repec/WP/012015_Martins_Why_is_this_school.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Thorstein Veblen, 1909. "The Limitations of Marginal Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17, pages 620-620.
    2. Veblen, Thorstein, 1909. "The Limitations of Marginal Utility," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 17.
    3. Avi J. Cohen, 2003. "Retrospectives: Whatever Happened to the Cambridge Capital Theory Controversies?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 199-214, Winter.
    4. Thorstein Veblen, 1899. "Mr. Cummings's Strictures on "The Theory of the Leisure Class"," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8, pages 106-106.
    5. Avi J. Cohen, 2014. "Veblen Contra Clark and Fisher: Veblen-Robinson-Harcourt lineagesin capital controversies and beyond," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(6), pages 1493-1515.
    6. Tony Lawson, 2013. "What is this 'school' called neoclassical economics?," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(5), pages 947-983.
    7. Mário da Graça Moura & Nuno Martins, 2008. "On some criticisms of critical realism in economics," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 203-218, March.
    8. Veblen, Thorstein, 1899. "The Preconceptions of Economic Science I," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 13.
    9. Veblen, Thorstein, 1904. "Theory of Business Enterprise," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number veblen1904.
    10. 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.
    11. Veblen, Thorstein, 1899. "The Preconceptions of Economic Science II," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 13.
    12. Veblen, Thorstein, 1921. "The Engineers and the Price System," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number veblen1921.
    13. Veblen, Thorstein, 1899. "The Theory of the Leisure Class," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number veblen1899.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Classical; Neoclassical; closed system; surplus; marginalism;

    JEL classification:

    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology

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