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On the Nature of Economic Laws: From Adam Smith to Alfred Marshall

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Abstract

Hardt investigates how economists from Adam Smith to Alfred Marshall understood the nature of economic laws. In particular, the author focuses on the issue of whether these laws were claimed to be general and universal or just context dependent. This chapter starts by presenting Smith’s arguments for and against universality of economic laws. The author attempts to reconcile Smith’s different views on laws. Next, the emphasis is put on David Ricardo. Here, similarly to A. Smith, Ricardo’s view on economic laws is that these laws are true in the models producing them but once confronted with empirical phenomena they are statements of what may happen in the real world. In the next step, the way John Stuart Mill comprehends economic laws is presented. Finally, the author compares these classical economists’ views on laws with those of Alfred Marshall. What ‘On the nature of economic laws: from A. Smith to A. Marshall’ shows is that all these economists denied the possibility of economics with universal laws of nature.

Keywords

History of economics Economic laws and models Adam Smith David Ricardo John Stuart Mill Alfred Marshall 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Economic SciencesUniversity of WarsawWarsawPoland

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