Rationalism and Anti-rationalism in the Origins of Economics
The Philosophical Roots of 18th Century Economic Thought
This major new study of the philosophical roots of economics examines the impact on eighteenth century economic thought of the rivalry between two opposing philosophical outlooks: rationalism and anti-rationalism. The economic thought of this period, William Coleman argues, was a synthesis of these two outlooks. Rationalism and Anti-Rationalism in the Origins of Economics examines the history of this key intellectual debate from Locke, Leibniz and Mandeville, to Hume, Condillac, Turgot and Smith. This authoritative study offers new insights on the work of the eighteenth century rationalists and anti-rationalists and the impact they had on the development of economic thought and analysis. Dr Coleman's book addresses an intellectual conflict which remains relevant today. Neoclassical economics is frequently criticized because some of its assumptions, such as those concerning optimization, rationality and equilibrium, are rationalist in character. This important book explores the intellectual archaeology of this continuing controversy over neoclassical economics, and offers new perspectives drawn from the lessons of the past.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'... I can strongly recommend this short book to anyone with a serious interest in eighteenth century economics.' -- Anthony Brewer, History of Economic Thought Newsletter 'Recommended for graduate and faculty collections.' -- R.S. Hewett, Choice 'This is a scholarly and intelligent book and will be authoritative in its field.' -- Athol Fitzgibbons, History of Economics Review 'In this attractive and generally well-written book Coleman traces the philosophical clash between rationalism and anti-rationalism in eighteenth-century thought (largely in French and British works) and seeks to detect its influence on the emerging discipline of political economy.' -- Ian Steedman, The Manchester School 'He [Coleman] has dealt insightfully with certain conflictual foundations of both eighteenth century and present-day economics, the latter especially in the last ten pages or so of the book. Indeed, Coleman has a quite perceptive and discerning intellect. He brilliantly if controversially, deconstructs and interprets the history of economic thought, and the work of particular writers, in terms of rationalism versus and combined with anti-rationalism.' -- Warren J. Samuels, Michigan State University, US