‘Openness’ as a Methodological Principle of Sraffa’s Economic Thinking
John Davis ()
Chapter Chapter 5 in A Reflection on Sraffa’s Revolution in Economic Theory, 2021, pp 135-158 from Palgrave Macmillan
Abstract Piero Sraffa’s Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities (1960) was path-breaking as a contribution to political economy and penetrating as a critique of the orthodox economics of the twentieth century. As Ajit Sinha recently put it, the book produced a ‘revolution in economic theory’ (Sinha, A Revolution in Economic Theory: The Economics of Piero Sraffa, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016; cf. Martins, “The Sraffian Methodenstreit and the Revolution in Economic Theory,” Cambridge Journal of Economics 43 (2): 507–525, 2019), the impact and significance of which continues to be investigated. At the same time, despite the depth and far-reaching implications of Sraffa’s critique of orthodox economics it was ignored by the great majority of economists, and this not only complicates our understanding of its impact on economic theory, but also creates a paradox regarding our interpretation of ‘the’ history of economics. For Sraffa, ‘the’ history of economics dates back at least to Adam Smith and David Ricardo as founders of a subject specifically understood as political economy. Yet economics today is no longer identified as political economy by most people in the field, but is conventionally said to be a science independent of history, politics, and social values, and thus makes little reference to how the social organization of the economy was a distinctive characteristic of the thinking of Smith, Ricardo, Marx, and others in the history of political economy.
Keywords: Production of commodities; Neoclassical economics; Sraffa; Gramsci (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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