A View from the Frontiers of Economic Research

  • Phyllis Deane
Part of the British Association for the Advancement of Science book series


Economists have played a part in the annual meetings of the British Association for the Advancement of Science ever since its foundation in 1833. Indeed, during its first half-century they seem to have been able to exchange seminal ideas with leading natural scientists more freely and fruitfully than they do now. In those days the President of Section F was often a Fellow of the Royal Society. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, the two biologists who arrived independently at the theory of natural selection, each claimed to have hit on the vital clue to their new theory as a result of reading Malthus’s Essay on Population.1 Among the political economists who became enthusiastic Darwinians, for example, was Henry Fawcett, a member of the 1860 British Association audience that witnessed the famous science v. religion confrontation in Oxford between Thomas Henry Huxley and Bishop Wilberforce:2 and Alfred Marshall, Fawcett’s successor in the Cambridge Chair of Political Economy was to sprinkle his influential Principles of Economics (1890) with biological ideas and analogies.


Economic Research National Income Economic Knowledge Nobel Laureate Mathematical Economic 
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    For the full quotation see Keynes’s Essays in Biography, p. 186, f.n. in Vol X of The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes (London: Macmillan, 1972).Google Scholar
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    David Henderson, Innocence and Design, the 1985 Reith Lectures (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986).Google Scholar
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© The British Association for the Advancement of Science 1990

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  • Phyllis Deane

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