Lionel Robbins's now famous lectures on the history of economic thought comprise one of the greatest accounts since World War II of the evolution of economic ideas. This volume represents the first time those lectures have been published. Lord Robbins (1898-1984) was a remarkably accomplished thinker, writer, and public figure. He made important contributions to economic theory, methodology, and policy analysis, directed the economic section of Winston Churchill's War Cabinet, and served as chairman of the Financial Times. As a historian of economic ideas, he ranks with Joseph Schumpeter and Jacob Viner as one of the foremost scholars of the century. These lectures, delivered at the London School of Economics between 1979 and 1981 and tape-recorded by Robbins's grandson, display his mastery of the intellectual history of economics, his infectious enthusiasm for the subject, and his eloquence and incisive wit. They cover a broad chronological range, beginning with Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas, focusing extensively on Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus and the classicals, and finishing with a discussion of moderns and marginalists from Marx to Alfred Marshall.
Robbins takes a varied and inclusive approach to intellectual history. As he says in his first lecture: "I shall go my own sweet way--sometimes talk about doctrine, sometimes talk about persons, sometimes talk about periods." The lectures are united by Robbins's conviction that it is impossible to understand adequately contemporary institutions and social sciences without understanding the ideas behind their development. Authoritative yet accessible, combining the immediacy of the spoken word with Robbins's exceptional talent for clear, well-organized exposition, this volume will be welcomed by anyone interested in the intellectual origins of the modern world.
Lionel Robbins taught at the London School of Economics from 1929 to 1961, directed the economic section of the British War Cabinet during World War II, and served as Chairman of the Financial Times from 1961 until 1970. His best known work is An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science. He became a life peer in 1959 and a Companion of Honour in 1968. Steven G. Medema is Professor of Economics at the University of Colorado at Denver. He is the editor of the Journal of the History of Economic Thought, author of Ronald H. Coase, and the coauthor, with Nicholas Mercuro, of Economics and the Law (Princeton). Warren J. Samuels is Professor of Economics at Michigan State University. He is the author of The Classical Theory of Economic Policy and The Economy as a Process of Valuation and coedits Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology with Jeff E. Biddle.
List of FiguresForewordIntroductionAAnticipations3Lecture 1Introduction - Plato5Lecture 2Plato and Aristotle16Lecture 3Aquinas and the Scholastics26Lecture 4Pamphleteers - Money (Oresme, Bodin, "W.S.")35Lecture 5Pamphleteers - Mercantilism (Malynes, Misselden, Mun)46Lecture 6Sir William Petty55Lecture 7Child and Locke (Interest)66BEmergence of Systems75Lecture 8Cantillon77Lecture 9Cantillon (cont.) - Physiocracy86Lecture 10Physiocrats - Turgot95Lecture 11Locke and Hume on Property - Hume on Money104Lecture 12Hume on Interest and Trade - Precursors of Adam Smith114Lecture 13General Survey of Smith's Intentions - The Wealth of Nations: Analytical (I)125Lecture 14The Wealth of Nations: Analytical (II)133Lecture 15The Wealth of Nations: Analytical (III) - Policy (I)143Lecture 16The Wealth of Nations: Policy (II)153CNineteenth-Century Classicism165Lecture 17General Review - Malthus on Population167Lecture 18Value and Distribution: Historical Origin - Analytical (I)176Lecture 19Value and Distribution: Analytical (II)185Lecture 20Value and Distribution: Analytical (III)192Lecture 21Overall Equilibrium201Lecture 22International Trade210Lecture 23John Stuart Mill219DOther Mid-Nineteenth-Century Thought229Lecture 24Mill (cont.) - Saint-Simon and Marx231Lecture 25Marx (cont.) - List and the Historical School238EBeginnings of Modern Analysis247Lecture 26The Historical School (cont.) - Precursors of Change: Cournot, von Thunen, and Rae249Lecture 27The Marginal Revolution (I): Jevons258Lecture 28The Marginal Revolution (II): Jevons and Menger268Lecture 29The Marginal Revolution (III): Costs (Wieser) - The Pricing of Factor Services (Wieser, Clark, Wicksteed)277Lecture 30Capital Theory: Bohm-Bawerk and Fisher285Lecture 31Walras - Pareto295Lecture 32Marshall303Lecture 33Money: Fisher, Marshall, Wicksell312App. ARobbins' Reading List321App. BRobbins' Writings in the History of Economic Thought331References337Index355