What Was “It” that Robbins Was Defining?
This paper argues that Robbins’ famous definition of economics was of “economic science” which he saw as only a narrow branch of the field of economics. Moreover, it was descriptive, not prescriptive, and was simply a statement that that was what economists were then doing in the science of economics. His prescriptive message was that policy belonged in the “political economy” branch of economics, and that the science of economics should avoid value judgments, but that political economy should include value judgments. That prescriptive message has been lost.
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- Robbins, Lionel [Lord], 1981. "Economics and Political Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 1-10, May.
- O'Brien, Denis P, 1988. "Lionel Charles Robbins, 1898-1984," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(389), pages 104-25, March.
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"The Making of an Economist,"
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American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 95-111, Fall.
- Daniel T. Slesnick, 1998. "Empirical Approaches to the Measurement of Welfare," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(4), pages 2108-2165, December.
- Colander, David, 1993. "The Lost Art of Economics: Response," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 213-15, Summer.
- Sen, Amartya Kumar, 1970. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal," Scholarly Articles 3612779, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Keynes, John Neville, 1890. "The Scope and Method of Political Economy," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, edition 4, number keynes1890.
- Sen, Amartya, 1970. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 152-57, Jan.-Feb..
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