Process and Order in Classical and Marginalist Economics
In this article I compare the classical theory of value with the theory of value that emerged after the marginal revolution, taking into account the underlying conceptions of process and order that are implicit in each theory. In classical political economy, the economy is conceived of as a continuous process of reproduction, wherein a surplus is distributed through various social classes. After the classical period, the notion of reproduction is replaced with the notion of equilibrium, while the analysis of society in terms of social classes is replaced by methodological individualism. Value also starts to be seen in terms of marginal utility, rather than cost of production. This transformation brought important changes to the implicit philosophical conceptions of process and order that have underpinned the dominant economic doctrine from the classical period until today, leading to the marginalist belief that market exchange is always the most efficient coordinating mechanism of the economy. The classical perspective, however, contains a broader conception of socio-economic reproduction, which is consistent with different institutional arrangements.
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