EC 442 -- History of Economic Thought
Spring, 1999

MW 2- 3:15 PM in CSS-226

Office: Cornell Social Sciences Bldg. 259
Phone 646-2509   Fax 646-2485


This course will survey the historical development of economic thought by means of a selection of readings from some of the original "great works" in our field. The purpose of the course is to help you broaden and deepen your understanding of economic thinking by exploring the historical background from which today's economic "knowledge" has arisen. In particular, the course will (1) consider some of the variety of views that, for different people at different times in history, have constituted economic "knowledge"; (2) discuss some of the historical reasons each of these different views arose; and (3) show how they have contended with each other over time -- that is, what kinds of "schools of thought" they have engendered, what sorts of changes they have undergone, how some views have come to predominate over others, and so forth. This course fulfills the "R", or "Writing Reinforcement", General Education Requirement for graduation. Moreover, by focusing on original works of great economists of the past this course will acquaint you with some of the best literature in the English language, as well as with the nature of economics as a practice, i.e., as a process of writing analyses and polemics in order to improve people's understanding and influence their thinking on issues.


Historical survey: Daniel Fusfeld, The Age of the Economist (latest ed).

Main selections, in order:

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (selections).

Karl Marx & Frederick Engels, The Communist Manifesto; Marx, "Wage Labor & Capital".

John Stuart Mill, On Socialism.

Thorstein Veblen, Theory of the Leisure Class (selections).

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Women and Economics (selections).

John Maynard Keynes, Essays in Persuasion (selections).

Most of the above are available in the textbook section at the Rollins Bookstore; the rest will be handed out in class or made available on reserve in the library.

One ADDITIONAL significant work of a major post-WWII economist will also be required (e.g., two significant articles or chapters of a book by an author such as Friedman, Galbraith, Samuelson, Robinson, Bowles, Lucas... ) -- see below.


Your course grades will be determined by the quality and diligence of your work on comprehending the subject matter, and on the diligence of your work on writing.

Specifically, you will be graded on the following, to be explained in class: