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Natural Images in Economic Thought
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  • 10 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 636 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.92 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521478847 | ISBN-10: 0521478847)

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$89.99 (C)

This collection of interdisciplinary essays is the first to investigate how images in the history of the natural and physical sciences have been used to shape the history of economic thought. It documents the extent to which scholars have drawn on physical and natural science to ground economic ideas and evaluate the role and importance of metaphors in the structure and content of economic thought. These range from Aristotle's discussion of the division of labor, to Marshall's evocation of population biology, to Hayek's dependence upon evolutionary concepts, and more recently to neoclassical economists' invocation of chaos theory.


List of contributors; Acknowledgements; Part I. The Natural and the Social: 1. Doing what comes naturally: four metanarratives on what metaphors are for Philip Mirowski; 2. So what's an economic metaphor? Arjo Klamer and Thomas C. Leonard; Part II. Physical Metaphors and Mathematical Formalization: 3. Newton and the social sciences, with special reference to economics, or, the case of the missing paradigm I. Bernard Cohen; 4. From virtual velocities to economic action: the very slow arrivals of linear programming and locational equilibrium Ivor Grattan-Guinness; 5. Qualitative dynamics in economics and fluid mechanics: a comparison of recent applications Randall Bausor; 6. Rigor and practicality: rival ideals of quantification in nineteenth-century economics Theodore M. Porter; Part III. Uneasy boundaries between man and machine: 7. Economic man, economic machine: images of circulation in the Victorian money market Timothy L. Alborn; 8. The moment of Richard Jennings: the production of Jevons's marginalist economic agent Michael V. White; 9. Economics and evolution: Alfred James Lotka and the economy of nature Sharon E. Kingsland; Part IV. Organic Metaphors and their stimuli: 10. Fire, motion, and productivity: the proto-energetics of nature and economy in François Quesnay Paul P. Christensen; 11. Organism as a metaphor in German economic thought Michael Hutter; 12. The greyhound and the mastiff: Darwinian themes in Mill and Marshall Margaret Schabas; 13. Organization and the division of labor: biological metaphors at work in Alfred Marshall's Principles of Economics, Camille Limoges and Claude Ménard; 14. The role of biological analogies in the theory of the firm Neil B. Niman; 15. Does evolutionary theory give comfort of inspiration to economics? Alexander Rosenberg; 16. Hayek, evolution, and spontaneous order Geoffrey M. Hodgson; Part V. Negotiating over Nature: 17. The realms of the Natural Philip Mirowski; 18. The place of economics in the hierarchy of the sciences: Section F from Whewell to Edgeworth James P. Henderson; 19. The kinds of order in society James Bernard Murphy; 20. Feminist accounting theory as a critique of what's 'natural' in economics David Chioni Moore; Index.


"The book is a good reference for teachers of the history of economic thought or philosophy of economics." The Southern Economic Journal

"...I recommend this volume to anyone interested in a lively debate about the intellectual cross-pollination between the natural and social sciences. Many of the essays are provocative." John C. Moorhouse, Reason Papers


Philip Mirowski, Arjo Klamer, Thomas C. Leonard, I. Bernard Cohen, Ivor Grattan-Guinness, Randall Bausor, Theodore M. Porter, Timothy L. Alborn, Michael V. White, Sharon E. Kingsland, Paul P. Christensen, Michael Hutter, Margaret Schabas, Camille Limoges, Claude Ménard, Neil B. Niman, Alexander Rosenberg, Geoffrey M. Hodgson, James P. Henderson, James Bernard Murphy, David Chioni Moore

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