The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • Shaun Hargreaves-Heap
  • Martin Hollis
Reference work entry


The proposition that every event has a cause sounds clear and simple. It is neither. On a very strong reading it asserts a grand inevitability about the workings of the universe, which leaves only one course of history possible. Many economists will associate determinism, taken in this sense, with Marx (1858):Since anyone who agrees is plainly a determinist, it is easy to presume that those who disagree with Marx are not. For, on this account, determinism seems opposed to freedom, because it excludes all individual voluntarism. Indeed, the passage contrasts so starkly with neoclassical analyses of choice, where the emphasis is on the role of individuals, that the opposition between determinism and individual freedom appears to capture a vital difference between marxian and neoclassical economists. But this would be too casual an appeal to a popular distinction between freedom and determinism, doing justice to neither school.

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shaun Hargreaves-Heap
    • 1
  • Martin Hollis
    • 1
  1. 1.