The Continuing Relevance of Alfred Marshall

  • John Whitaker
Part of the British Association for the Advancement of Science book series


It is hardly controversial to suggest that Alfred Marshall, the Cambridge economist who lived from 1842 to 1924, was a leading figure in the development of economics as a discipline.1 His influence came both from his economic ideas and from his roles as professional leader and mentor. His most famous protégés were John Maynard Keynes and Arthur Cecil Pigou, while his masterwork, The Principles of Economics, dominated the subject for decades after the appearance of the first edition (Marshall, 1890). Historians of economics have been intensively engaged in elucidating and assessing, or reassessing, all aspects of Marshall’s thought and professional impact, and this interest will doubtless continue apace; a definitive interpretation, that will stand unchallenged by posterity, is hardly possible in the case of so complex and central a figure as Marshall. In fact, interest in the study of Marshall as a historical figure currently seems to be in the ascendant. But the fact that Marshall’s contribution to the development of economics is a major concern of historians of economics does not imply that it is, or should be, of much interest to economists who profess to have no interest in their subject’s past. I will, indeed, suggest later that economists ought to be interested in the rich body of past economic thought, and probably would be if they took a more realistic view of the nature of their subject.2


Marginal Cost Consumer Surplus Economic Reality Government Revenue Marginal Revenue 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baumol, W. J. and Bradford, D. F. ‘Optimal Departures from Marginal Cost Pricing’, American Economic Review, vol. 60 (1970) pp. 265–83.Google Scholar
  2. Dasgupta, P. S. and Heal, G. M. Economic Theory and Exhaustible Resources (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Fisher, A. C. Resource and Environmental Economics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Friedman, M. ‘The Methodology of Positive Economics’ in his Essays in Positive Economics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953).Google Scholar
  5. Hotelling, H. ‘The Economics of Exhaustible Resources’, Journal of Political Economy, vol. 39 (1931) pp. 137–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hotelling, H. ‘The General Welfare in Relation to Problems of Taxation and of Railway and Utility Rates’, Econometrica, vol. 6 (1938) pp. 242–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Keynes, J. M. ‘Alfred Marshall, 1842–1924’, Economic Journal, vol. 34 (1924) pp. 311–72, reprinted in Pigou (1925) and in J. M. Keynes, Essays in Biography in Collected Writings vol. 10 (London: Macmillan, 1972).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Keynes, J. M. The General Theory and After: Part II Defense and Development in D. Moggridge (ed.) Collected Writings vol. 14 (London: Macmillan, 1973).Google Scholar
  9. Keynes, J. N. The Scope and Method of Political Economy (London: Macmillan, 1891).Google Scholar
  10. Loasby, B. J. ‘Whatever Happened to Marshall’s Theory of Value?’, Scottish Journal of Political Economy, vol. 25 (1978) pp. 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. McCloskey, D. N. ‘The Rhetoric of Economics’, Journal of Economic Literature, vol. 21 (1983) pp. 481–517.Google Scholar
  12. Marshall, A. The Pure Theory of Foreign Trade: The Pure Theory of Domestic Values (Privately printed, 1879; reprinted, London: London School of Economics, 1930). An amplified version is reproduced in J. K. Whitaker (ed.) The Early Economic Writings of Alfred Marshall, 1867–1890 (London: Macmillan, 1975).Google Scholar
  13. Marshall, A. Principles of Economics, vol. I (London: Macmillan, 1890).Google Scholar
  14. Marshall, A. Industry and Trade (London: Macmillan, 1919).Google Scholar
  15. Marshall, A. Principles of Economics, 8th edn (London: Macmillan, 1920). This is reproduced as the first volume of the ninth (variorum) edition edited by C. W. Guillebaud (London: Macmillan, 1961).Google Scholar
  16. Marshall, A. Money Credit and Commerce (London: Macmillan, 1923).Google Scholar
  17. O’Brien, D. P. ‘A. Marshall, 1842–1924’, in D. P. O’Brien and J. R. Presley (eds) Pioneers of Modern Economics in Britain (London: Macmillan, 1981).Google Scholar
  18. Pigou, A. C. (ed.) Memorials of Alfred Marshall (London: Macmillan, 1925). Ramsey, F. P. ‘A Contribution to the Theory of Taxation’, Economic Journal, vol. 37 (1927) pp. 47–61.Google Scholar
  19. Ramsey, F. P. ‘A Contribution to the Theory of Taxation’, Economic Journal, vol. 37 (1927) pp. 47–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Solow, R. M. ‘Economic History and Economics’, American Economic Review, vol. 75 (1985) pp. 328–31.Google Scholar
  21. Whitaker, J. K. ‘Some Neglected Aspects of Alfred Marshall’s Economic and Social Thought’, History of Political Economy, vol. 9 (1977) pp. 161–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Whitaker, J. K. ‘The Emergence of Marshall’s Period Analysis’, Eastern Economic Journal, vol. 8 (1982) pp. 15–29.Google Scholar
  23. Whitaker, J. K. ‘Must Historians of Economics Apologize?’, History of Economics Society Bulletin, vol. 6 (2) (1985) pp. 9–15.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The British Association for the Advancement of Science 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Whitaker

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations