The Evolution of Modern Economic Theory

  • Lord Robbins


When the organisers of this colloquy asked me to give a general address on Western conceptions of the present state of economic theory, I confess I felt daunted. I was daunted in the first place by the nature of the subject: in any survey of so extensive a field, the problems where to begin, what to include, what to leave out, are indeed problems which should inspire apprehension, even in the breast of the most self-confident. But I was daunted, too, by a more delicate problem. Here we were to sit round this table, met together in an attempt to create mutual understanding of positions which certainly in the past have been assumed to be very far apart. How could I present in short compass the general background of thought of those of us on this side without introducing irrelevant issues or appearing to be needlessly provocative? Yet how could I avoid these dangers without running the risk of insufficient candour, of all things least desirable in an exchange of this sort? I admit I found this very perplexing.


Pure Theory Factor Service Monetary Theory Investment Period International Trade Theory 
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  1. 1.
    See the authoritative article by G. F. Shove, ‘The Place of Marshall’s Principles in the Development of Economic Theory’, Economic journal, lii (Dec 1942).Google Scholar
  2. 1.
    Johnson, ‘The Pure Theory of Utility Curves’, Economic Journal, xxiii (Dec 1913);Google Scholar
  3. 1.
    Slutsky, ‘Sulla teoria del bilancio del consumatore’, Giornale degli Economisti, li (1915).Google Scholar
  4. 1.
    Originally published in the Zeitschrift für Nationalökonomie, 111 (1932). Reprinted with a supplement in J. Viner, The Long View and the Short (Glencoe, Ill., 1958).Google Scholar
  5. 1.
    L. von Mises, Nationalökonomie (Geneva, 1940) pp. 126–33; and Human Action (New Haven, 1949) pp. 158–63.Google Scholar
  6. 2.
    R. Dorfman, P. A. Samuelson and R. W. Solow, Linear Programming and Economic Analysis (New York, 1958).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Lord Robbins 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lord Robbins
    • 1
  1. 1.London School of EconomicsUK

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