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Richard N. Langlois is Professor of Economics at the University of Connecticut.


Fall 2004
Office Hours:

MWF 10-12.



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322 Monteith
341 Mansfield Road
Storrs, CT
06269-1063 USA
(860) 486-3472
(860) 486-4463 (fax)

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Economics 205

History of Economic Thought

Fall 2004

MWF 8-8:50 a.m.

Monteith 221

Course syllabus


 Icon Objectives.

 Icon Textbooks.

 Icon Internet.

 Icon Course requirements.

 Icon Sequence of topics and reading list.



 Icon Notes on writing.

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This course examines the history of economic ideas.  It is not a history of what actually happened in the past (compare Economics 201, the Economic History of Europe) but rather a history of theories about how the economy works.  Nonetheless, we will pay a little attention to economic history, since understanding what was going on in the economy in past times and places helps us to understand how people conceptualized the economy. 




I have asked the bookstore to order the following books.  Both are highly readable – even entertaining.  There is some overlap in the coverage, but their perspectives differ.  Both are inexpensive paperbacks.



Todd G. Buchholz, New Ideas from Dead Economists: An Introduction to Modern Economic Thought. Plume Books, Revised edition, 1999.


Robert L. Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers : The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers. Touchstone; 7th Rev edition, 1999.



I have also asked the bookstore to order the following, which is aimed at the “W” part of the course.   I don’t expect to make specific assignments from this book, but I expect you to read it and take its lessons to heart.


Deirdre McCloskey, Economical Writing.  Waveland Press,  2nd edition, 1999.



Many primary sources (and some secondary sources) are now available on the internet.  We will rely heavily on such sources.  For copyright reasons, some are accessible only from the WebCT page for this course.  Some links on this syllabus are accessible only from computers connected to the Internet through the UConn domain. If you live off campus and are connecting through a private ISP, check with the computer center about something called a proxy server.


Many articles available on the web are in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. To read them, you will need the Adobe Acrobat reader. This should already be installed on University microlab computers. But if you don't have it, you can download it for free.


Useful links. The New School maintains a website with links to a wide range of resources related to history of economic thought.  McMaster University maintains an archive of online versions of primary sources in the history of economic thought.  The Liberty Fund maintains an online library of books and essays in economics.



Course Requirements.


Your grade will be based on the following components.


Term paper







Since this is a “W” course, half the grade will be based on a writing assignment.  Detailed instructions and advice for this assignment are available here.


Since the term paper will test your ability to synthesize ideas and think creatively, the exams will concentrate on factual knowledge of what we have covered in class.  Along with short essays, they may contain some matching, identification, multiple-choice, or true/false components.  The final will be cumulative, but will stress the material covered after the midterm.



Sequence of topics.


1.  Introduction.  Why study the history of economic thought?  


Richard N. Langlois, “The Great Question,” Manuscript 2003.  (On WebCT.)


Buchholz, chapter 1.


2.  Classical and medieval economic thought.


EH.Net encyclopedia entry on the ancient Greek economy.


Plato, The Republic.


Karl Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies.  Princeton, 1966, vol 1, chapters 6 and 8.  (Electronic course reserve – WebCT.)


Aristotle, Politics, books I and II; Nicomachian Ethics, book V.


Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, second part of the second part, questions LXXVII and LXXVIII.


3.  Mercantilism.  


Edward Misselden, Free Trade or, The Meanes to Make Trade Florish (1622).


Gerard de Malynes, The Maintenance of Free Trade (1622).


Thomas Mun, England's Treasure by Forraign Trade (c. 1630).


Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book IV.


4.  The Physiocrats.


Richard Cantillon, Essay on the Nature of Commerce in General (c. 1730).


F. A. Hayek, “Richard Cantillon” (1931).


François Quesnay, Tableau économique (1758; in French).


A. R. J. Turgot, Reflections on the Formation and Distribution of Wealth (1766).


Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book IV, chapter ix.


Almarin Phillips, "The Tableau Economique as a Simple Leontief Model," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1955.


6.  Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment.


John Locke, Second Treatise of Government (1690), esp. chapter V.


David Hume, Political Discourses (1752), especially Of Money,” “Of the Balance of Trade,” and “Of the Jealousy of Trade.”


Buchholz, chapter 2.


Heilbroner, chapter 3.

Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Book I (all, though you can skip the lengthy "digression on silver"); Book II, especially chapters I, III, and V.


Nathan Rosenberg, “Some Institutional Aspects of the Wealth of Nations,” Journal of Political Economy 68(6): 557-570 (December 1960).


G. B. Richardson, "Adam Smith on Competition and Increasing Returns," in Andrew S. Skinner and Thomas Wilson, eds., Essays on Adam Smith. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.  (Electronic course reserve – WebCT.)


7.  T. R. Malthus.


Buchholz, chapter 3.


Heilbroner, chapter 4.


Thomas Robert Malthus An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798).


Richard N. Langlois, “The Great Question,” Manuscript 2003.  (On WebCT.)


8.  David Ricardo.


Buchholz, chapter 4.


Heilbroner, chapter 4.


David Ricardo, The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, esp. chapters 1-8, 19-21, 26, 30-31.


Robert Dorfman, "Thomas Robert Malthus and David Ricardo," Journal of Economic Perspectives 3(3): 153-164 (1989).


Mark Blaug, “Ricardo’s System,” excerpt from Economic Theory in Retrospect,  Cambridge University Press, third edition, 1978, pp. 91-95.  (On WebCT.)


George Stigler, "Ricardo and the 93% Labor Theory of Value," American Economic Review 48(3): 357-367 (June 1958).


9.  John Stuart Mill and Classical  Economics


Buchholz, chapter 5.


John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy, esp. Book I, chapter 5; Book III, chapters 1-6, 15-16; and Book IV, chapters 1-4.


10. The reaction to capitalism: conservatives, utopians, socialists.


Heilbroner, chapter 5.


John Ruskin, Unto this Last (1860).


Thomas Carlyle page at the New School


David Levy and Sandra Peart, “The Secret History of the Dismal Science: Economics, Religion, and Race in the 19th Century” (2001).


Robert Owen, A New View of Society (1813-16).


Utopian and socialist page at the New School.


11. Karl Marx. 


Buchholz, chapter 6.


Heilbroner, chapter 6.


Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Communist Manifesto (1848), Sections 1 and 2


Karl Marx, Capital, volume 1 (1867).


Paul Craig Roberts and Matthew Stephenson, Marx’s Theory of Exchange, Alienation, and Crisis.  Stanford: Hoover Institution, 1973.  (On WebCT.)


12. The Marginalist Revolution 


Barber, chapter 7.


Heilbroner, chapter 7.


W. S. Jevons, Theory of Political Economy (1871).


Carl Menger, Principles of Economics (1871)


Carl Menger, “On the Origin of Money,” The Economic Journal 2(6): 239-255 (June 1892).


Léon Walras, Elements of Pure Economics, trans. William Jaffé, Homewood, Ill.: Richard D. Irwin, 1954 [1874].


William Jaffé, "Menger, Jevons and Walras De-Homogenized," Economic Inquiry 14(4):511-24 (1976).  (Electronic course reserve – WebCT.)


13. Alfred Marshall


Buchholz, chapter 7.


Alfred Marshall, Principles of Economics, eighth edition, esp. Book I, chapters I and II; Book III; and Book IV; skim Book V.


Brian J. Loasby, "Knowledge and Organization: Marshall's Theory of Economic Progress and Coordination," chapter 4 in Loasby, The Mind and Method of the Economist. Edward Elgar, 1989.  (Electronic course reserve – WebCT.)


14. John Maynard Keynes


Buchholz, chapters 9, 10, and 12.


Heilbroner, chapter 9.


J.M. Keynes, "The General Theory of Employment," Quarterly Journal of Economics 51, May 1937 (section II to the end)


Barry Eichengreen, “Still Fettered After All These Years,” Working Paper No. w9276, National Bureau of Economic Research, October 2002.


F. A.  Hayek, "The Keynes Centenary: The Austrian Critique," The Economist, June 11, 1983, pp.  45-48, reprinted in Bruce J. Caldwell, ed., The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek: Volume IX:  Contra Keynes and Cambridge: Essays, Correspondence. Chicago: Univesity of Chicago Press, 1995,  pp. 247-255. (On WebCT.)


15. Veblen, Schumpeter, and Galbraith.


Buchholz, chapter 8.


Heilbroner, chapters 8 and 10.


Richard N. Langlois, "Schumpeter and the Obsolescence of the Entrepreneur," Advances in Austrian Economics 6: 287-302 (2003).


16. The socialist calculation debate and modern economics.


Buchholz, chapters 11 and 13.


F. A. Hayek, "The Use of Knowledge in Society," American Economic Review 35(4): 519-530 (1945).


Bruce Caldwell, “Hayek and Socialism,” Journal of Economic Literature 35: 1856-1890 (December 1997).