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Neoclassical Theory in America: J.B. Clark and Fisher



The intellectual breakthroughs that mark the neoclassical revolution in economic analysis occurred in Europe around 1870. The next two decades witnessed lively debates in which the new theory more or less absorbed or was absorbed in the classical tradition that preceded and provoked it. In the 1890s, according to Joseph A. Schumpeter (1954, p. 754) there emerged "a large expanse of common ground and ... a feeling of repose, both of which created, in the superficial observer, an impression of finality -- the finality of a Greek temple that spreads its perfect lines against a cloudless sky." Of course the temple was by no means complete. Its building and decoration continue to this day, even while its faithful throngs worship within. American economists were not present at the creation. To a considerable extent they built their own edifice independently, designing some new architecture in the process. They participated actively in the international controversies and syntheses of the period 1870-1914. At least two Americans were prominent builders of the "temple," John Bates Clark and Irving Fisher. They and others brought neoclassical theory into American journals, classrooms, and textbooks, and its analytical tools into the kits of researchers and practitioners. Eventually, for better or worse, their paradigm would dominate economic science in this country. This paper discusses their contribution.

Suggested Citation

  • James Tobin, 1985. "Neoclassical Theory in America: J.B. Clark and Fisher," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 776, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:776
    Note: CFP 636.

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Argandoña, Antonio, 2013. "Irving Fisher: un gran economista," IESE Research Papers D/1082, IESE Business School.
    2. Joseph Aschheim & George S. Tavlas, 2006. "Money as mumeraire: doctrinal aspects and contemporary relevance," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 59(239), pages 333-361.
    3. Joseph Aschheim & George S. Tavlas, 2006. "Money as mumeraire: doctrinal aspects and contemporary relevance," BNL Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 59(239), pages 333-361.
    4. repec:crs:ecosta:es374-375c is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Stavros Drakopoulos & Ioannis Katselidis, 2015. "From Edgeworth to econophysics: a methodological perspective," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(1), pages 77-95, March.
    6. repec:eee:ecolec:v:143:y:2018:i:c:p:90-96 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:bus:jphile:v:10:y:2016:i:1:n:2 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Joseph Persky, 2000. "The Neoclassical Advent: American Economics at the Dawn of the 20th Century," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 95-108, Winter.
    9. Kirui, Oliver K. & Okello, Julius J. & Nyikal, Rose A. & Njiraini, Georgina W., 0. "Impact of Mobile Phone-Based Money Transfer Services in Agriculture: Evidence from Kenya," Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, vol. 52.
    10. Aschheim, Joseph & Tavlas, George S., 2004. "Academic exclusion: the case of Alexander Del Mar," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 31-60, March.
    11. Missemer, Antoine, 2018. "Natural Capital as an Economic Concept, History and Contemporary Issues," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 90-96.
    12. Alam, M. Shahid, 2013. "Constant Returns to Scale: Can the Neoclassical Economy Exist?," MPRA Paper 45153, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Luc Arrondel & André Masson & Daniel Verger, 2004. "De la théorie à une enquête méthodologique originale," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 374(1), pages 21-51.
    14. Stavros A. DRAKOPOULOS, 2016. "Economic crisis, economic methodology and the scientific ideal of physics," The Journal of Philosophical Economics, Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, The Journal of Philosophical Economics, vol. 10(1), pages 28-57, November.
    15. repec:sgh:gosnar:y:2016:i:6:p:23-42 is not listed on IDEAS


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