The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Jevons, William Stanley (1835–1882)

  • Harro Maas
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-95189-5_1198

Abstract

This article examines William Stanley Jevons’s life and work against the background of Victorian disputes over the appropriate method of political economy. Jevons is commonly known as one of the founders of marginalist analysis in economics. As a genuine Victorian polymath, Jevons undertook research in many different fields of the sciences, meteorology, statistics and political economy in particular. This article shows how Jevons transposed his training in the natural sciences to political economy, in the process shifting from a labour to a utility theory of value and mathematizing the discipline as well.

Keywords

Bentham, J. Boole, G. Cairnes, J. E. D’Avenant, C. De Morgan, A. Equation of exchange Felicific calculus Functional analysis Hedonic theory of value Index numbers Induction Jenkin, H. C. F. Jevons, W. S. King, G. Labour supply Labour theory of value Marginal revolution Mathematical methods in political economy Mill, J. S. Political economy Productive and unproductive labour Psychophysiology Quantity theory of money Quetelet, A. Statistics, and economics Tendency laws Tooke, T. Utility Value Wages fund whewell, W. 

JEL Classifications

B31 
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Bibliography

  1. Aldrich, J. 1987. Jevons as statistician: The role of probability. Manchester School of Economic and Social Studies 55: 233–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barrett, L., and M. Connell. 2005. Jevons and the logic ‘piano’. Rutherford Journal 1. Online. http://www.rutherfordjournal.org/article010103.html.
  3. Black, R.D.C. 1960. Jevons and Cairnes. Economica 27: 214–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Black, R.D.C. 1972. Jevons, Bentham and De Morgan. Economica 39: 119–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Black, R.D.C., and R. Könekamp. 1972–81. Papers and correspondence of William Stanley Jevons. 1–7 vols. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  6. Black, R.D.C., A.W. Coats, and C.D.W. Goodwin, eds. 1973. The marginal revolution in economics: Interpretation and evaluation. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Blaug, M. 1976. Ricardian economics: A historical study. Westport: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  8. Cairnes, J.E. 1857. The character and logical method of political economy. London: Longman Brown Green Longmans and Roberts.Google Scholar
  9. Creedy, J. 1992. Demand and exchange in economic analysis: A history from Cournot to Marshall. Aldershot: Elgar.Google Scholar
  10. Davison, G. 1997–98. The unsociable sociologist: W.S. Jevons and his survey of Sydney, 1856–8. Australian Cultural History 16: 127–150.Google Scholar
  11. De Marchi, N.B. 1972. Mill and Cairnes and the emergence of marginalism in England. History of Political Economy 4: 344–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. De Morgan, A. 1847. Formal logic, or, the calculus of inference, necessary and probable. London: Taylor & Walton.Google Scholar
  13. Durand-Richard, M.-J. 1991. Babbage, Boole, Jevons between science and industry: The principle of analogy and the mechanization of operations. In The interaction between technology and science, ed. B. Gremmen. Wageningen: Wageningen Agricultural University.Google Scholar
  14. Grattan-Guinness, I. 2002. ‘In some parts rather rough’: A recently discovered manuscript version of William Stanley Jevons’s general mathematical theory of political economy (1862). History of Political Economy 34: 685–726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Inoue, T. 2002. W Stanley Jevons: Collected reviews and obituaries. 2 vols. Bristol: Thoemmes.Google Scholar
  16. Jenkin, F. 1996. The graphic representation of the laws of supply and demand and other essays on political economy. London: Routledge/Thoemmes Press.Google Scholar
  17. Jennings, R. 1855. Natural elements of political economy. New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1969.Google Scholar
  18. Kim, J. 1995. Jevons versus Cairnes on exact economic laws. In Rima.Google Scholar
  19. Klein, J.L. 1995. The method of diagrams and the black arts of inductive economics. In Rima.Google Scholar
  20. Lucas, R.E. 1980. Methods and problems in business cycle theory. Journal of Money, Credit and Banking 12: 696–715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Maas, H. 2005. William Stanley Jevons and the making of modern economics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Mill, J.S. 1843. A system of logic, ratiocinative and inductive: Being a connected view of the principles of evidence and the methods of scientific investigation. In The collected works of John Stuart Mill. 7 and 8 vols, general ed. J.M. Robson. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973–4.Google Scholar
  23. Mill, J.S. 1844. Essays on some unsettled questions of political economy. 2nd edn. London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer Co. 1874. In Essays on economics and society. The collected works of John Stuart Mill, vol. 4, general ed. J.M. Robson. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967.Google Scholar
  24. Mill, J.S. 1972. The later letters of John Stuart Mill 1849–1873 part IV. The collected works of John Stuart Mill. Vol. 17, general ed. J.M. Robson. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  25. Mirowski, P. 1989. More heat than light: Economics as social physics, physics as nature’s economics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mosselmans, B. 1998. William Stanley Jevons and the extent of meaning in logic and economics. History and Philosophy of Logic 19: 83–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mosselmans, B. 2007. William Stanley Jevons and the cutting edge of economics. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Mosselmans, B., and M.V. White. 2001. Collected economic writings of W.S. Jevons. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  29. Nicholls, N. 1998. William Stanley Jevons and the climate of Australia. Australian Meteorological Magazine 47: 285–293.Google Scholar
  30. Peart, S.J. 1995. Disturbing causes, noxious errors, and the theory-practice distinction in the economics of J.S. Mill and W.S. Jevons. Canadian Journal of Economics 28: 1194–1211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Peart, S.J. 1996. The economics of W.S. Jevons. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Peart, S.J. 2003. W.S. Jevons: Critical responses. 4 vols. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  33. Playfair, W. 1801. In The commercial and political atlas and statistical breviary, ed. H. Wainer and I. Spence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2005.Google Scholar
  34. Richards, J. 2002. In a rational world all radicals would be exterminated: Mathematics, logic, and secular thinking in Augustus De Morgan’s England. Science in Context 15: 137–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rima, I.H., ed. 1995. Measurement, quantification and economic analysis: Numeracy in economics. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Robbins, L.C. 1932. An essay on the nature and significance of economic science. London: Macmillan. 1984.Google Scholar
  37. Schabas, M. 1990. A world ruled by number: William Stanley Jevons and the rise of mathematical economics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Schabas, M. 2005. The natural origins of economics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schmitt, R.W. 1995. The salt finger experiments of Jevons (1857) and Rayleigh (1880). Journal of Physical Oceanography 25: 8–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Stigler, S.M. 1982. Jevons as statistician. Manchester School of Economic and Social Studies 50: 354–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Stigler, S.M. 1994. Jevons on the King Davenant law of demand: A simple resolution of a historical puzzle. History of Political Economy 26: 185–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Watts, H. 1868. A dictionary of chemistry and the allied branches of other sciences. London: Longmans, Green & Co..Google Scholar
  43. White, M.V. 1989. Why are there no supply and demand curves in Jevons. History of Political Economy 21: 425–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. White, M.V. 1994a. The moment of Richard Jennings: The production of Jevons’s marginalist economic agent. In Natural images in economic thought: ‘Markets read in tooth and claw’, ed. P. Mirowski. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  45. White, M.V. 1994b. That god-forgotten Thornton’: Exorcising Higgling after on labour. History of Political Economy 26 (supplement): 149–183.Google Scholar
  46. White, M.V. 1994c. Bridging the natural and the social: Science and character in Jevons’s political economy. Economic Inquiry 32: 429–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. White, M.V. 2004. In the lobby of the energy hotel: W.S. Jevons’ formulation of the post-classical economic problem. History of Political Economy 36: 227–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. White, M.V. 2006. A painful disposition to classification: W.S. Jevons’ first statistical chart in political economy. Mimeo, Monash University.Google Scholar
  49. Wood, J.C. 1988. William Stanley Jevons: Critical assessments. 3 vols. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harro Maas
    • 1
  1. 1.