History Department
History Department

Hist. Science Colloq.: "How influential was mechanics in the dev. of neo-classical economics?"

Mon, October 19, 2009 | GAR 1.102

12:00 PM

The University of Texas History of Science Colloquium presents a talk by Dr. Ivor Grattan-Guiness of the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, London School of Economics entitled "How influencial was mechanics in the development of neo-classical economics? A small example of a large question".

Dr. Ivor Grattan-Guiness' abstract:
"It is well known that classical mechanics played a significant role in the thought of several major economists in the neo-classical tradition from the 1860s to the 1910s. Less well studied is the particular parts or features of mechanics that exercised this influence, or the depth and extent of the impact.

After outlining the main traditions of mechanics and the calculus and describing types of analogy between theories in general, I review some main pertinent features of the work of eight neo-classical economists from the 1830s to the 1910s.I argue that the influence took various forms but that in practice it was modest.

Then I briefly describe a fresh set of possible influences with the development of dynamical systems in the period 1920-1950, where again the role of mechanics was limited.I end by raising a large question: does economics need some mathematics designed for its own purposes rather than that traditionally obtained by analogising from mechanics and physics?"

Sponsored by: UT History of Science Colloquium

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