Friedrich von Hayek

Friedrich von Hayek (1899-1992), winner of the Nobel prize in economics in 1974, is possibly better known for his extreme economic liberalism than for his theoretical contributions to economics. However, in the 1930s he appeared to many as the champion of the continental school, a point ofreference ofgreat theoretical strength to set against the 'Cambridge school' for those who did not share the political implications of Keynesian theory. We may distinguish four components in his thought an...

The path of economic science

After The essence and the principles of economic theory and after The theory of economic development, the third great work of the young Schumpeter is a long essay published in 1914, on Epochs in the history of doctrines and methods. In this work, Schumpeter set out not only to retrace the path followed by economic enquiry from the beginning to his own times, but also, and mainly, to interpret the path, or in other words to offer a theory of the development of economic science. Similarly, in his...

Richard Cantillon

For many economists the publication of Smith's Wealth of nations marks the birth-date of economic science, while Marx went back still further, hailing Petty as the father of political economy. Jevons (1881) stopped mid-way for him the founder of political economy was an international banker, Richard Cantillon. He appears to have been born in Ireland, lived most of his life in Paris, and was murdered in London in 1734.30 He was the author of an Essay on the nature of commerce in general,...

The Scottish Enlightenment Francis Hutcheson and David Hume

The Enlightenment notion of a 'natural order' was adopted in Scotland purged of Cartesian rationalism and hence transformed into the view of a 'spontaneous order'. Such an order was considered the result of an adaptive evolutionary process, in which a multiplicity of individual choices led to a result - a set of complex, sufficiently well-functioning, social structures - not assumed as the objective of a broad, rational design thus somewhat distant from the tradition of constructive rationalism...

Francois Quesnay and the physiocrats

The physiocrats or les economistes, as they used to call themselves were a very compact and combative group of French economists grouped around Francois Quesnay 1694-1774 , doctor to Madame de Pompadour at the court of Louis XV. The physiocrats are the first school of economic thought to have equipped themselves with their own press organs in order to advocate definite points of policy. The span of time in which they were dominant was short - little more than a quarter of a century47 - but...