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Of time, uncertainty, and policy-making: Lionel Robbins’ lost philosophy of political economy

Thiago Oliveira and Carlos Suprinyak ()
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Thiago Oliveira: University of Siena

No 580, Textos para Discussão Cedeplar-UFMG from Cedeplar, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Abstract: In the second edition of his methodological Essay, Lionel Robbins attributes a significant role to uncertainty, dynamics and the time element. Understanding the motives that led to these revisions may offer important clues to assess what happened to political economy ever since, and how far economics has diverged from Robbins’ agenda. Our main claim is that these topics appeared on the second edition of the Essay because Robbins saw them as fundamental if economics (as a science) were to achieve its goal of being a useful tool for political economy, following the English Classical economists’ distinction between science and art. His conception of science was thus tailored to his interests in political economy, rejecting attempts to mimic the methods of the natural sciences by preserving the human element that makes economics a social science.

Keywords: Lionel Robbins; Political Economy; Uncertainty; Time; Methodology of Economics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B20 B31 B40 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 23 pages
Date: 2018-05
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his, nep-hpe, nep-pke and nep-pol
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