The System of Economic Freedom

  • Lord Robbins


If I had been speaking before almost any other audience I should have felt obliged to preface my remarks by some apology for my subject. When I began to study economics, thirty years ago, the senior generation of economists in this country — Marshall, Edgeworth, Fox-well and Cannan — were all men who, in their different ways, were truly learned in what may be called the scholarship of the subject; and some acquaintance with the history of economic thought was usually deemed to be a desirable part of the equipment of the economist. But, in the years that have passed since then, all that has changed. In most centres of study, this kind of knowledge has come to be regarded as a very unimportant embellishment, as inessential to the economist as a knowledge of the history of chemistry is said to be inessential to the chemist. This development has always seemed to me to be unfortunate I do not think that, even in the purely analytical field, our knowledge is so far advanced as to justify us in writing off as superseded the propositions of all but our immediate contemporaries; and, in the applied field, I do not think that we can hope to understand the problems and policies of our own day if we do not know the problems and policies out of which they grew.


Economic Policy Political Economy Economic Freedom Classical Economist Economic Thought 
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  1. 2.
    Sir W. Ashley, “ Address to the British Association ”, Economic Section, Leicester, 1907, reprinted in the Economic Journal vol. xvii, p. 467 seq.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    John Wheatley, An Essay on the Theory of Money and Principles of Commerce vol. ii (1822), pp. 118–145.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    See Overstone, Works (edited McCulloch), and Torrens, Principles and Practical Operation of Sir Robert Peel’s Act of 1844 (3rd edition).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Lord Robbins 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lord Robbins
    • 1
  1. 1.The London School of EconomicsUK

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