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The economist quae political economist: Lionel Robbins and the economic adivisory council

Listed author(s):
  • Thiago Dumont Oliveira


  • Carlos Eduardo Suprinyak


This paper assesses Robbins's participation in the Economic Advisory Council in 1930, drawing mostly on The Lionel Robbins Papers held atthe LSE. The divergences between him and Keynes are highlighted and an attempt is made to shed some light on Robbins' overarching interest on the interplay of economics as a science and political economy as a broader field that includes normative considerations. This renders invalid criticisms related to the absence of ethical considerations in Robbins' approach to economics. Specifically, some elements that would resurface in Robbins' later works are identified, and it is argued that the Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science should be situated within his larger purpose of illuminating the extent to which the science of economics could serve as an important tool – necessary, though not sufficient –to orient the formulation of public policies.

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Paper provided by Cedeplar, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in its series Textos para Discussão Cedeplar-UFMG with number 535.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2016
Handle: RePEc:cdp:texdis:td535
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  1. Susan Howson, 2004. "The Origins of Lionel Robbins's Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 36(3), pages 413-443, Fall.
  2. Wright, Richard, 1989. "Robbins as a Political Economist: A Response," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(396), pages 471-478, June.
  3. A. B. Atkinson, 2009. "Economics as a Moral Science," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(s1), pages 791-804, October.
  4. Colander, David, 2009. "What Was “It” That Robbins Was Defining?," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(04), pages 437-448, December.
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