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On the Right Side for the Wrong Reason : Friedman on the Marshall-Walras divide

  • Michel, DE VROEY

    (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES))

The aim of this article is to assess Friedman’s claim, put forward in his 1949 article on the Marshallian demand curve, that there is a methodological divide between the Marshallian and Walrasian approaches. Friedman’s argument will be critically examined and compared with the views he expressed in other articles written around thesame time. My evaluation will lead to a mixed conclusion. Positively, Friedman must be hailed for having brought the Marshall-Walras divide to the forefront. In a more critical vein, I will suggest, first, that Friedman’s argumentation in the 1949 paper is definitely wanting. A better account of the differences between Marshall and Walras is to be found in his 1955 review of Jaffé’s traslation of Walras’s Eléments d’économie pure. Second, I will claim that Friedman’s real target in his 1949 article was imperfect competition theory à la Chamberlin and Keynesianism à la Lange, which he wrongly associated with Walrasian theory. Third, present-day proponents of the divide will be criticised for having naively echoed Friedman’s argumentation instead of having tried to improve it. The paper finishes with an outline of the criteria that should be used for giving te Marshall-Walras divide a stronger grounding.

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Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES) in its series Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) with number 2004015.

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Length: 34
Date of creation: 01 Apr 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvir:2004015
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  1. Hicks, John, 1977. "Economic Perspectives: Further Essays on Money and Growth," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198284079, March.
  2. Grandmont, Jean-Michel, 1993. "Temporary general equilibrium theory," Handbook of Mathematical Economics, in: K. J. Arrow & M.D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Mathematical Economics, edition 4, volume 2, chapter 19, pages 879-922 Elsevier.
  3. Hahn, Frank, 1990. "John Hicks the Theorist," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 539-49, June.
  4. Donald A. Walker (ed.), 2000. "Equilibrium," Books, Edward Elgar, volume 0, number 1585, December.
  5. Leijonhufvud, Axel, 1984. "Hicks on Time and Money," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(0), pages 26-46, Supplemen.
  6. Michel De Vroey, 2000. "Marshall on equilibrium and time: a reconstruction," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(2), pages 245-269.
  7. De Vroey, Michel, 2001. "Price Rigidity and Market-Clearing: A Conceptual Clarification," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(5), pages 639-55, September.
  8. Leijonhufvud, Axel, 1984. "Hicks on time and money," Discussion Papers, Series I 182, University of Konstanz, Department of Economics.
  9. Michel De Vroey, 2003. "Perfect information a la Walras versus perfect information a la Marshall," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(4), pages 465-492.
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