History of Economic Thought

In recent years, with the global economy in ever revolving turmoil, mainstream economics, not being helpful in understanding the causes of meltdowns and growing global imbalances, has hit the fan. Inevitably, studying economics through the lens of both Keynesian and Marxian schools has become even more relevant. In this respect, the history of economic thought is not a study of old-fashioned ideas; instead, it is essential for understanding capitalism today. This course surveys a range of major economic doctrines and their evolution. Although classical political economy, the neoclassical school, and Keynesian thought will be the three major themes, we will also touch on their somewhat minor sub-branches. Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, Thorstein Veblen and John Maynard Keynes will be the highlighted figures. Each school’s historical context and their ideological underpinnings will also be discussed throughout the course. Hunt and Lautzenheiser’s legendary text will guide our path, with Heilbroner’s The Worldly Philosophers and Foley’s Adam’s Fallacy complementing our seminars. Students are expected to develop their own interpretations of the role of economic ideas and their relevance to social science and everyday politics. As Joan Robinson has put it, “The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.”