History of Political Economy 44:3

An issue of: History of Political Economy

History of Political Economy 44:3
Journal Issue Pages: 184 Volume 44, Number 3 Published: 2012 An issue of History of Political Economy


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Warren Samuels: A Personal Reminiscence

Medema, S. G.

The author offers a personal reminiscence of Warren Samuels, a noted historian of economics who died in 2011.

Gerard Debreu's Secrecy: His Life in Order and Silence

Duppe, T.

During research seminars, it hardly ever happened that Gerard Debreu posed a question—and if he did, not without already knowing the answer. While some admired him for the tranquility of his austere rigor, others wondered how little he had to say in economics. To whatever effect, Debreu himself was committed to mathematics since he could earn recognition without exposing himself as a person. This essay presents his life and career in light of this personal need for protection by mathematical purity. My account profited from Debreu‘s personal papers as well as the memories of former colleagues, friends, and family who communicated more freely about Debreu than he himself ever could.

Credit Where Credit Is Due: Henry Thornton and the Evolution of the Theory of Fiduciary Money

Skaggs, N. T.

Perceptive thinkers have been writing intelligently about money for at least five centuries. However, nearly all of the early thinkers developed theories designed to explain the behavior of full-bodied metallic money or the opposite extreme, fiat money issued by governments. However, late in the eighteenth century Great Britain gave rise to a fiduciary monetary system in which the assets regularly used to make commercial payments were debt instruments issued not only by the Bank of England but also by a myriad of country banks. Furthermore, a variety of privately issued commercial paper was regularly used to make commercial payments. While thinkers of the stature of David Hume and Adam Smith utilized the quantity theory of money or the real bills doctrine to explain the monetary system, Henry Thornton broke new ground by developing a theory that recognized the essential truth that most of the "monies" used in England (and Scotland) were merely promises to pay.

Adam Smith's "Science of Human Nature"

Berry, C. J.

We do not find in Smith any programmatic statement about the nature of human nature only, rather, a profuse scattering of remarks. We can, however, be confident that he shared the aspirations of the "Enlightenment project," within which, indeed, self-awareness of a "conception of man" was focal. There was a convergence on the idea that human nature is constant and uniform in its operating principles. By virtue of this constancy human nature was predictable so that once it was scientifically understood then, as Hume argued, a new foundation was possible for, inter alia, morals, criticism, politics, and natural religion. While Smith is more circumspect, he shares Hume‘s ambitions for the "science of man," which Smith calls the "science of human nature" and which he believes was, even in the seventeenth century, in its "infancy." This essay aims to explicate what Smith implies about this "science."

The Intellectual Legacy of Jules Dupuit: A Review Essay

Ekelund, R. B., Hebert, R. F.

The achievements of Jules Dupuit (1804–1866), French engineer and economist, policymaker and molder of the canon of neoclassical microeconomic theory, are displayed in their entirety through Yves Breton and Gérard Klotz‘s compilation of his collected works, Oeuvres économiques complètes (Éditions Economica, 2009). This magisterial two-volume set makes available for the first time in a convenient format all of Dupuit‘s major and subsidiary writings, as well as archival material found only in

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