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  • Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Volume 25, Issue 2
  • June 2003, pp. 145-156

The Formalist Revolution of the 1950s

  • Mark Blaug (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 June 2009

Something happened to economics in the decade of the 1950s that is little appreciated by most economists and even by professional historians of economic thought. The subject went through an intellectual revolution as profound in its impact as the so-called Keynesian Revolution of pre-war years. I call it the Formalist Revolution after Ward (1972, pp. 40–41), who was the first to recognize the profound intellectual transformation of economics in the years after World War II.

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K. J. Arrow and G. Debreu . 1954. “Existence of an Equilibrium for a Competitive Economy.” Econometrica 22 (07): 265–90.

M. Blaug 1999. “Misunderstanding Classical Economics: The Sraffian Interpretation of the Surplus Approach.” History of Political Economy 31 (2): 213–36.

M. Blaug 2003. “The Formalist Revolution of the 1950s.” In Warren J. Samuels , ed., The Blackwell Companion to The History of Economic Thought.” Oxford: Basil Blackwell, forthcoming.

R. C. Clower 1994. “Economics As an Inductive Science.” Southern Economic Journal 60 (4): 805–14.

A. Kirman 1989. “The Intrinsic Limits of Modern Economic Theory: The Emperor Has No Clothes.” Economic Journal 99 (Supplement): 126–39.

R. J. Leonard 1994. “Reading Cournot, Reading Nash: The Creation and Stabilisation of Nash Equilibrium. Economic Journal 104 (05): 492511.

R. C. Lipsey 2001. “Success and Failure in the Transformation of Economics.” Journal of Economic Methodology 8 (06): 169201.

F. M. Machovec 1995. Perfect Competition and the Transformation of Economics. London: Routledge.

R. M. Solow 1957. “Technical Change and the Aggregate Production function.” Review of Economics and Statistics 39 (08): 312–20.

B. Ward 1972. What's Wrong with Economics? London: Macmillan.

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Journal of the History of Economic Thought
  • ISSN: 1053-8372
  • EISSN: 1469-9656
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