Edgeworth’s Mathematical Psychics: A Centennial Notice
Francis Ysidro Edgeworth (1845–1926) published his Mathematical Psychics in 1881.1 While not an architectonic classic, such as Alfred Marshall’s Principles,2 it was a major work in the history of economics. It was, in retrospect, a book remarkable for its time in its emphasis on mathematical formalism, its depth of technical sophistication and formulation, and its studied application of utilitarian analysis to matters of economic and political policy, as well as its particular substantive contributions to the discipline. A book now apparently largely unread, it is striking for what it did, for what it tried but did not accomplish, and for what it contained that was neglected by subsequent writers until redeveloped much later. More important, it prefigured both the form which economic analysis was subsequently to take and the problems of applying economic analysis to problems of policy. It is a book worthy of centennial notice, indeed, perhaps capable of providing further insight.
KeywordsImperfect Competition Differential Capacity Determinate Solution Happy People Perfect Competition
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